Gov’t grounds four aircraft companies

By William Madouk

National Minister of Transport, Madut Biar Yel, has suspended four airline companies from flying in South Sudan’s airspace over fake registration.

“I, Madut Biar Yel, the minister of transport, do hereby issue this ministerial order for suspension of the companies,” partly read the order signed by the minister.

The Tuesday order suspends Tajikistan aircrafts bearing EY certificates.

Affected companies include Allied Services, Eagle Enterprise, Icon Aviation, and Fly Africa Aviation.

The minister said he contacted the government of Tajikistan to confirm the alleged registration of the aviation companies, only to find it was a forgery.

“The EY certificate is for planes flying in Tajikistan territory” the minister stressed.

He explained that Tajikistan civil aviation laws do not allow planes with EY registration to operate in foreign countries.

The minister said they are also considering a watertight legal suit against those airline companies.

He said some managers of the affected companies approached him, asking for ample time before their flights were grounded, because they have contracts with oil companies, UN agencies, among others.

“I refused, because crime had already been discovered, and when we give permission again, the government of South Sudan will be taken to court by the Tajikistani government,” he said.

The minister intimated that if he made an error to allow the fraudulent companies to continue operating, South Sudan government would face charges of felony.

“So, all aircrafts with EY registration are grounded, and even no aircraft should be released to its owner,” the minister stressed.

Contradictorily, the minister said the affected companies are only given one week—until Tuesday, July 11, 2023—to clear off all the booked trips to their respective destinations.

The minister did not however, clarify on the legal implications of uncertainties that might arise within the one-week grace period; he has advanced to the companies in breach of his own the order.

According to Mr. Yel, “This is to allow South Sudanese who might have booked in advance with these companies to travel to their respective places and states.”

An act of forgery is a criminal offense, and if the suspect is found guilty, he or she shall be sentenced to prison, according to South Sudanese laws.

Prior to the recent manifestation, the Council of Ministers had ordered the Minister of Transport to investigate airworthiness of planes flying various routes in the country and suspect those that are unfit.

The minister of transport had presented to the cabinet two reports of frequent air crashes involving two airlines, the Southwest and South Supreme Carriers.

Due to insecurity and poor roads, South Sudanese opt for air transport to reach some of the remote places in the far corners of the country.

But the woes do not end on the surface of the earth. The country’s aviation sector has been experiencing frequent crashes.

Mr. Michael Makuei, minister of information, argued that most jets operating in South Sudan are not flyable in other parts of the globe, adding that if they are not airworthy, uninsured, or unlicensed, they must be grounded.

Earlier, the South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SSCAA) apologized for the rising number of plane crashes in the country.

The country’s air safety regulator said they take responsibility for the negligence on their part, which might have played a part in the worrying air accidents.

In March 2021, a plane, L-410, operated by South Supreme Airlines crashed while en route from Uror County to Juba, killing all on board.

In August 2020, eight people died and one passenger survived with injuries when a plane crashed minutes after takeoff from Juba International Airport.

Nineteen people perished in 2018 when a small aircraft carrying passengers from Juba to Yirol crashed.

Also In 2017, 37 people miraculously survived after their plane hit a fire truck on a runway in Wau before bursting into flames.

In 2015, 36 people were killed when a Soviet-era Antonov plane crashed just after takeoff in Juba.

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