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Air traffic controllers reject suspension

By James Atem Kuir

The just-suspended air traffic control officials have objected their suspension, calling it unlawful and instead demanded its withdrawal.

The Civil Aviation Authority recently suspended about 16 air traffic controllers for three months without pay or benefit for laying down tools over poor working conditions and other grievances last year.

The air traffic control officials were also prohibited from entering their work premises unless on the request of the administration.

However, in an interview with Juba Monitor yesterday, one of the sixteen suspended officials said the Civil Aviation administration unlawfully suspended them for protesting, which was their genuine concern.

James Akol said they will neither accept the suspension nor comply with the provisions of the order.

“The way the Civil Aviation administration acted and came up with the procedures to suspend us is very unlawful and we rejected it by writing our letter to them. We indicated that we don’t accept it and we will not comply with all the procedures in it because it is against the public regulations,” he asserted.

“When we laid down our tools, we did not strike against anybody or against the nation; we were striking because of need for proper procedures for the safety of the citizens traveling using our airspace. They are not safe and us being the qualified personnel in civil aviation, we are the right people to tell our administration what is supposed to be done and what is not there. We are the direct people working at the airport,” he said.

The air traffic controllers complained that lack of proper tools for work and valid working licenses have been a challenge since 2015, something they believe can compromise the safety of travelling by airplanes but the administration repeatedly ignored the concerns.

“We have been requesting our administration to provide us with proper tools since 2015 but they failed to listen to us. They should reconsider their suspension and try to solve these problems differently,” he further stated.

The SSPDF Air Defense Forces took over the air traffic control in December last year following the strike of the air traffic control personnel.

According to reports last year, there were only 19 air traffic controllers deployed at Juba International Airport and other airstrips across the country.

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