South Sudan yet to fully control airspace 10 years after independence

South Sudan yet to fully control airspace  10 years after independence

South Sudan is yet to fully control its airspace ten years after gaining independence.

Despite the ongoing bid to tighten safety controls as part of the reaction to mitigate the frequent fatal plane crashes, The City Review ascertained that a huge chunk of aviation control processes is still being conducted from the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

Stephen Rombe Tako Lojulo, the Director General-Air Navigation Service at South Sudan Civil Aviation Authorities (SSCAA), told The City Review that the country has not fully met the requirements needed to control its airspace.

He said for a country to have full control of its airspace, it should have a well-developed infrastructure and qualified personnel to control the airspace.

 “At that time, we had only three South Sudanese airspace controllers among the Arab (Sudanese) controllers, including some engineers and communicators, so we couldn’t afford to control the whole country’s airspace,” Tako said.

However, he said in 2016, South Sudan and Sudan signed an agreement for the responsibilities of the country’s airspace.  

According to Tako, the agreement gave two different responsibilities for each country in which South Sudan was to control to the altitude not exceeding 25,000 feet and Sudan controls from an altitude of 25,000 to 60,000 feet high.

“… the two countries should work together to develop the full system in South Sudan and that was the obligation tasked to Khartoum.

 “Then the obligation tasked to Juba was to make the environment conducive or to lay the groundwork for the engineers to come from Khartoum to install the navigational equipment for South Sudan,” Tako explained.

“In short, Sudan must equip South Sudan and train the South Sudanese cadres to take control of their airspace within three years.”

He said Sudan was also tasked to equip the identified airports like the Malakal, Wau, Rumbek as well as to train the airport personnel to provide the services at those airports.

However, Tako said nothing has been done since then, despite the three-year duration having ended. He lamented that another three-year deadline was nearing but the two countries had not completed their obligations.

“Since nothing has been done, Sudan will have to continue controlling the upper feet as South Sudan will manage the lower feet.” So, this is the situation in the South Sudan airspace. “

Need for equipment                       

Tako stressed that it is upon the country to equip itself so that it can gain control of its airspace in the near future.

He said the authorities have trained about 35 airport procedural controllers, which he said are doing great in improving the aviation country’s industry.

“We are also looking forward to getting rudder controllers and other equipment as it makes possible ways for the development of the centre,” Tako stressed.

He further revealed that there is an ongoing major project of Air Traffic Center (ATC) being implemented by the Chinese in which the rudders and other equipment will be installed.

“We cannot continue to wait for the Chinese to finish the project. Recently, we also brought some equipment from France which have been installed in Juba and now we can communicate with aircraft which is flying near Malakal, Wau, and Rumbek,” he stressed.

Mr Tako urged citizens to be patient as the authorities are working hard to ensure that the country gains control over its airspace.