(eTN) – Aviation security at the international airport in Juba, South Sudan’s capital city, has always been porous at best, and the airlines operating in and out of that airport had to create their own additional measures to ensure that their own internal security standards were upheld. As South Sudan is now undergoing vetting by the East African Community to assess their readiness to become a formal applicant member, aviation security, too, is one of the issues which needed addressing, as are, of course, air navigational standards and general aviation infrastructure vis-a-vis CASSOA, East Africa’s Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency.
It is, therefore, good news that the European Union has now agreed to fund an initial security upgrade at Juba International Airport to the tune of 12.5 million euros, under a scheme which will see the introduction of state-of-the-art screening equipment, improved perimeter security and surveillance capabilities, and most important training of AVSEC personnel, to be able to spot threats and interpret screening pictures correctly.
As witnessed personally in the past, loopholes in airport security could be exploited by radicals, and it is, therefore, noted with some satisfaction that experience shared with officials in Juba seems to have born fruits as the EU apparently responded to an official request from the government in Juba to assist them as a matter of urgency with security upgrades and trained personnel. By September this year, according to information sourced from a regular aviation source in Juba, over 60 trained staff will be deployed at the airport for a 20-month period, to both boost security and also to train “understudies” in the art of monitoring, surveiling, threat assessment, and data interpretation.
Landlocked South Sudan depends on air transport, and 2 flights a day from Entebbe by Air Uganda are complemented by a number of flights from Nairobi, including a double daily operation by Kenya Airways and Jetlink, plus daily flights by Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa. Airline personnel asked to comment on their operational and security challenges in Juba were, however, not willing to go on record other than confirming that they faced significant challenges and had to put added internal measures into place to ensure the safety of their passengers, crews, and aircraft.