Jonglei State, News

Community Radio shuts over insecurity

By Manas James

Radio Pochalla 88.0 FM, a community radio station operating in the Pochalla County headquarters, Pochalla town, has temporarily gone off air over ongoing conflict.

Since Monday, Pochalla town in Jonglei state of South Sudan has witnessed sporadic clashes between local Anyuak youth and members of the SSPDF, causing residents and aid organizations to evacuate.

The station director, Otho Okoti, informed No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper on Thursday that operations were suspended because staff members had to flee the town due to safety concerns.

Additionally, the station’s tower was damaged by artillery shells during the fighting.

“We decided to close the radio station on Monday as we felt threatened. I was even arrested on Sunday, although I was later released without any charges,” Otho explained.

“During the conflict, our compound was hit by seven artillery shells, which damaged the tower stand. So, in order to ensure the safety of my staff, we had to close the radio station, considering its proximity to the military barracks.”

In response to the situation, Charles Wello Onyony, a lawmaker representing Pochalla County in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), called for the protection of civilian infrastructure.

He also emphasized the need for a resolution to the crisis in Pochalla.

Meanwhile, Pochalla Acting County Commissioner, Owety Olung acknowledging closure of the radio station, assured that operations would resume once the situation calms down.

“The station went off Air on Monday due to indiscriminate shelling, but it will be reopened once the peaceful environment is restored,” Owety Olung said.

He added that on Wednesday, lawmakers held a meeting with Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Santino, and they reached an agreement to cease hostilities to allow evacuation of the wounded.

“We have communicated this to our youth, and now they are calm. We all want peace and we believe this will bring peace “the acting commissioner stressed.

However, Owety said that when a helicopter came in the afternoon, the forces began firing heavy artillery.

“We don’t know why but it is good that those in the helicopter saw for themselves who was shooting,” he added.


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