Sudan Road Network

By | December 13, 2022

Sudan’s primary paved roads (as of: 2020).

According to wholevehicles, Sudan has a network of approximately 30,000 kilometers of road. The exact length of the tarmac road network is unclear, it was listed in 2017 as being about 6,000 kilometers. However, the network of paved roads has grown quite rapidly since 2010. In 2011, 47% of the primary roads were asphalted. In 2009, only 2,900 kilometers of road were in good condition.

Sudan’s road network is quite limited, partly because there are no other major cities outside the capital area of ​​Khartoum and Omdurman. Approximately 7,200 kilometers of road are paved, of which the Khartoum – Port Sudan route is more than 1,200 kilometers. Until the 1970s a road network was not seen as a priority, it was thought that the rail network could meet the transport demand. As a result, the rail network is relatively extensive. In 1970 there was only one 180 km paved road between Khartoum and Wadi Madani. In the 1970s it became clear that the railway network could not meet the demand for transport and in 1973 it was decided to build roads in order to create competition for the railways. The most important project was the paving of the road from Khartoum to Port Sudan, which partly runs along the Nile. The last part of this opened to traffic in 1980. In 1990, this road made up half of Sudan’s total paved road network. This road was rehabilitated in the period 1991-1995.

In the 1980s more roads were paved, such as the road from Wadi Madani to Kusti over a length of 200 kilometers. During the 1990s, this road was extended west to Umm Ruwaba and al-Ubayyid. In the south, gravel roads from Juba were paved, including a route to the border with Uganda. A connection to Kenya was also built. In 2000, Sudan had 3,616 kilometers of paved road. This grew to 7,154 kilometers in 2010. After 2010, more roads in Sudan were paved, the most important was a road link from Khartoum to the border with Egypt west of the Nile, in 2010 the paved road reached Dongola, in 2014 to the border with Egypt. This actually involved a completely new road connection through desert area. Since then, the Trans-Africa Highway 4to drive entirely on paved roads through Sudan.

However, southern Sudan is not connected to northern Sudan by major roads. There are only unpaved roads through the middle of Sudan, and the western region of Darfur is also poorly accessible by road. There are no roads at all in the northwest. There are virtually no roads through the Nubian desert, but with Chinese help, the road to Wadi Halfa on the border with Egypt was paved in 2012, east of the Nile. Outside the capital Khartoum there are few bridges over the Nile. The main one is at Kusti, on which the road from Khartoum to Darfur runs.

Tolls are charged on some major roads, such as the road from Khartoum to Wad Madani and the road from Sennar to Kusti. Also from Al-Qadarif to Kassala and Port Sudan.

Khartoum

Khartoum and the huge suburb of Omdurman, which together form an agglomeration of 7 million inhabitants, have an extensive urban road network. The Blue and White Nile converge at Khartoum, forming the Nile further north towards Egypt. There are no real highways in Khartoum (or all of Sudan), but there are a number of grade separated intersections. Major roads are often wide, and sometimes with a parallel system of 2+3+3+2 lanes, such as Africa Street. Khartoum’s road network is set up in a grid, with important north-south axes. In Khartoum and Omdurman more and more large bridges are being built over the Nile. North and south of Khartoum, two multi-lane bridges are under construction, in addition to the existing Victory and White Nile Bridges. There are 4 bridges over the Blue Nile. The most recent is the Halfayt Bridge, which has 2×3 lanes and handles through traffic on the north side of Khartoum. Khartoum’s urban road network is relatively extensive by African standards.

The city of Omdurman has a less developed road network, partly due to uncontrolled urban growth. Many people from Darfur and other parts of Sudan move to the capital region, mostly ending up in Omdurman, which lies on the west side of the Nile. Omdurman is connected to Khartoum and North Khartoum by 3 2×2 bridges.

Road management

Road management in Sudan is a task of the National Highway Authority, which is part of the Ministry of Roads and Bridges.

History

Under British rule, Sudan’s road network was virtually undeveloped, except somewhat in and around Khartoum. In 1926 the Omdurman Bridge opened over the White Nile to Omdurman, later a number of bridges were built over the Blue Nile. Until the 1940s there were virtually no roads outside Khartoum, including no improved dirt roads. One of the most important points in the Sudanese road network was Kassala, a city in the east of the country, connected by a route from Khartoum and from El Obeid.

After independence in 1956, this situation did not change substantially until the 1970s. The position at the time was that the railways could meet the transport demand in the country. However, in 1973 it was decided that the rail network was not sufficient and an investment in the road network was needed. The first road connection in Sudan was the road from Khartoum to Port Sudan via Al Gedaref and Kassala, making this not the most direct route from Khartoum to Port Sudan. Around 1980 this was also the primary road network of all of Sudan, the road from Khartoum to Port Sudan with a branch from Kosti, which was not fully paved until 1984. In 1979 the bridge over the Nile in Kosti was also completed, which was probably the first Nile bridge outside Khartoum.

In 1985 Khartoum had 4 Nile Bridges, two over the Blue Nile, one over the White Nile and one bridge over the Nile after the confluence of both branches. In the 1980s and 1990s a paved road was built from Kosti to El Obeid. A bridge has also been built over the Blue Nile at Wad Madani. However, Sudan’s development was limited due to many internal conflicts and wars, as well as its status as a pariah state. After the Sudanese civil war ended in 2005, more was invested in the development of the country. One of the spearheads was an expansion of the paved road network, which was substantially expanded in the period 2005-2020 and opened up a considerably larger part of the country than before.

Road numbering

As a former British colony, Sudan has also adopted the British numbering system from A and B roads. The A1 to A5 are radial roads that run clockwise from Khartoum. The two-digit numbers run between those branches, such as A20 through A30 between A2 and A4, and 40 through 50 between A4 and A5. The B-roads are zoned counterclockwise from Khartoum, so the other way around than the A-roads.

Signage

Signage seems to be extremely rare in Sudan. Both in and around the capital Khartoum, as elsewhere in the country, there seems to be hardly any signage.

Sudan Road Network