By William Madouk
South Sudan is making final touches to take control of its airspace from Sudan, said Madut Biar Yel, the national minister of transport, yesterday.
Addressing the media during the inspection of a new control tower and Air Traffic Management (ATM) system facility in Juba, Biar said the work is 100 percent complete, with only handing over and launching soon.
“Since we gained our independence in 2011, we didn’t have this facility, and our airspace has been under the control of the Republic of Sudan since we got our independence,” Biar explained.
“And now we build this facility [control tower] and Air Traffic Management (ATM) system center here in Juba,” he added.
Besides the air traffic control tower in the airport, they also installed radars in Wau, Malakal, and Bor. Plus very high frequency (VHF) in Raja and Kapeota, which are connected to the center.
“So, with the three radar stations that I mentioned, it is going to control all our airspace. And soon we are going to take over this facility from the contracting company, China Harbour,” said Biar.
“Just a few connections are remaining, and very soon the facility is going to be complete,” he continued.
According to the transport minister, Sudan is in the process of handing over airspace to South Sudan within the next few weeks.
“South Sudan will be completely sovereign, controlling its sovereign airspace. That is one. And that our sovereignty will be 100%.” He assured.
“Two, the security of our airspace and the security of our country is another important area that we are going to achieve through having this facility.” He added
“And third is economic development. Because, as part of generating non-revenue, this facility is also going to generate a lot of money because South Sudan is now at the center of, not only Africa but at the crossroads of international flights.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to South Sudan, Ma Qiang, said, “I’m very proud to witness the job—the brilliant job done by the China Harbour with high quality and high efficiency.”
“The government and the people of South Sudan will take back control of the upper airspace,” he added.
Mr. Ma Qiang elaborated on Beijing-Juba historical relations and added that this wouldn’t be the last project, but more are on the pipeline.
Among those in attendance during the inspection were the minister of information, Micheal Makuei, Mr. Napoleon Adok, the director of the National Communication Authority, and Simon Mijok, the minister of roads and bridges.
Others are the Ministry of Interior, Angelina Teny, the deputy ministers of finance and foreign affairs, respectively, and the director-general of the National Security Service (NSS)-Internal Security Bureau (ISB), Akol Koor, just to mention a few.