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Airspace system construction stalled due to non-payment of funds – official

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Thursday, June 15, 2023

Ariel view of Juba International Airport. Credit | Obaj Okuj/Eye Radio

The construction of the Air Traffic Management System stalled due to the non-payment of funds for already executed projects, the minister of Transport has said.

South Sudan’s airspace has been under Sudan’s control since it gained independence in 2011.

But in 2020, the government contracted China Harbour Engineering Company to construct the Air Controller System to enable South Sudan to control its airspace.

The construction of the facility at Juba International Airport started in June 2020.

“Since the contract started, we were supposed to over our airspace this June, but we are facing a problem with paying the contractor money,”

“The contractor is a Chinese Company and the financer is also Chinese which is Chinese Exim-Bank, that suspended the contract and the operation simply because our Ministry of Finance has not been meeting some contractual obligations,” said Transport Minister Madut Biar.

The government and the company agreed on a six-point-two million U.S. dollar payment every 21st of January and 21 July to the contractor.

“There was a payment that I found with the contract of 6.2 million for every 21st of January and every 21st of July, and now July is coming,” said the official.

But the government did not commit fully to the deal, prompting the company to suspend the project.

“The Ministry of Finance assured them before the end of May, it was going to pay $36 million of the arrears, and up to now nothing has been paid,” he revealed.

Sudan has now closed its airspace following the conflict which broke out in mid-April, leading South Sudan to suspend air navigation services above in the furthest air space.

According to Biar, if the government fails to clear the payment, the contractor would suspend all the operations but warns that this will cause damage to the equipment damage being installed.

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