.Reports from Juba.Optimistic officials and do-gooding expatriates insist that change takes time—and is coming. Infant mortality, they say, has dropped from 102 per thousand to a still dire 76. Maternal mortality, at 2,054 per 100,000 births, remains the world’s worst. The country’s first major paved road, from Juba, the capital, to Nimule, on the border with Uganda, was completed last year. But 60% of the population are still cut off for half the year due to floods in the rainy season. Paved roads to connect the main towns of South Sudan’s ten states would cost $7 billion. At present only UN helicopters can be relied on to reach them.Yet the new country’s potential remains great. It has a lot of oil, more cattle than people, enough farmland to feed most of sub-Saharan Africa, and minerals and timber in abundance. But without roads even the canniest businessmen will struggle to make it worthwhile to invest. Could the government have done better?