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Suspending the South Supreme Airlines may do more justice to the airlines than to the victims

By Deng Elijah,

March 3, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — While president Salva Kiir might be on the hunt for accolades to salvage his tainted legacy than serving public interest, his recent presidential order to suspend the South Supreme Airlines is in the right direction; however, it might do more justice to the airline company and little to the victims of the air crash and South Sudan Aviation industry. In actual terms it was not a presidential order but a directive to the right authority, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority, but to give president Kiir some credit, assuming that the Ministry would have done nothing, let’s call it a presidential order! 

south supreme airline….

To begin with, the airline industry is not “booming” all over the world. In fact many major airline companies have voluntarily suspended their operations or most of their services because they can’t sustain their cost of operation. In simple terms they are running bankrupt! 

In developed countries, some aviation industries are relying on the governments to make ends meet as most of their flights are carrying below their maximum capacities to meet COVID-19 measures and other regulatory restrictions but in developing countries they have no otherwise rather than to drag on through thick and thin until tragedies like this happen. As someone, who has travelled across the continents in the last two months and saw how empty some major airports are, I can testify from firsthand experience that the airline industry is making huge losses during this pandemic and therefore, suspending operations for a struggling airline company might not be a punishment as the presidential order might want it to sound to gain public trust and confidence but it could be a recovery package in disguise for the airline in question.

Whether the airline will resolve the root causes of its accidents or not, it will not have to run at a loss. In addition, the suspension could only help the airline to escape responsibilities and fail to compensate the victims only to resume operations in a few months or years in the same status it’s operating in today. 

In my humble opinion, both the governor of Jonglei State, Gov. Denay Chagor, and President Salva Kiir, who issued condolences letters, might have unintentionally hurt the victims more than they wished to help them. In both letters, Denay and Kiir sent their condolence messages and prayers for the dead “to rest in peace”, just like any helpless regular Joe would do, but pledged nothing for the widows and orphans. They failed to exercise their powers to deliver tangible assurances and services to the affected families and relatives.

In a country that has no life insurances, and is limited in almost everything, both the state and national governments should have taken up more responsibilities, and as such the governor and the president should have pledged stronger solidarity to stand with the immediate families of the victims. 

In sum, they cared for the deceased more than they care for the living!

Words Vs. Action

Notwithstanding that the governor, who happened to be from the affected region, should have immediately visited the scene,  condoled the victims in person and pledged his solidarity right on the ground as opposed to sending biblical quotes through a generic friendly letter on social media, the president should have sounded more presidential than a campaign manager.  If interpreted as written, both the governor and the president intended to paint themselves as caring and neutral third parties as opposed to being the custodians of the law.

Whereas the governor sent a package of prayers, praying on his own behalf and on behalf of others, the president sent condolences to the victims and a recommendation to the ministry to suspend the operations of South Supreme Airlines. These are the “supreme leaders” the victims’ families are looking up to, unfortunately none of them remembered to demand investigation, justice and accountability as if the tragedy was of natural occurrence or something justified. Instead president Kiir gave the airlines and the related institutions the authority to investigate themselves and ascertain “airworthiness of the remaining South Supreme Airlines”. Isn’t that what these institutions have been doing all along?

Importance of Independent Investigation:

Given that this is not the first time the South Supreme Airlines crashes, and also because there have been numerous plane crashes from other airlines within the last few years, the president should have ordered a thorough investigation or established his usual “committees” to find the root causes of these accidents. It is speculated that these airlines that are crashing are very old and as such it is important to investigate how these airlines are acquired and by who? It is possible that there are loopholes within these very institutions (The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority) that are being exploited by certain individuals or companies to import aircrafts that are literally being dumped or cannot be used in other countries.

As such, Mr. President, if you wish to restore public trust and confidence in air travel, the buck begins here – find the root causes of these avoidable accidents and mitigate them. A word of prayer cannot do that!

Justice and Accountability.

While we respect prayers and condolence messages in a spiritual sense, it is only justice and accountability that will reduce accidents or bridge the gaps that are created by these devastating death. In the very worst case scenario where a plane crashes, the family of the victims should not only be comforted through theoretical acclaims but the airline must justify that the accident was unpreventable for certain reasons and despite that, the airline company has taken measures to compensate the victims and to mitigate such incidents.

They don’t have to be suspended through a presidential decrees, they must lead by example, comfort the victims and assures their customers. This is a very reasonable thing to do and that is what is actually done in other parts of the world. This is not expensive to ask for and needless to emphasize that these air accidents usually claim mostly the breadwinners and potential leaders of the society, leaving the rest vulnerable. 

The plane crash that happened in Pieri, Uror County, could have happened in any county or state and to anybody, including the leaders themselves. Therefore, it deserves stronger condemnations and better leadership to ensure that they are prevented and minimized!

Lastly, while we all appreciate the words of kindness, especially during hardships, it is important that political leaders lead through actions i.e. provision of goods and services to the affected families and communities, and through enactment of policies that would prevent or mitigate similar tragedies from reoccurring. The rest can be handled by the spiritual leaders and other members of the society! 

The author, Deng Elijah, is the Executive Director of Nyamilepedia and President of the Gawaar Global Community; however, the views expressed in this article are his personal opinions that do not reflect the views of any organizations that he works for or represent. For more information, he can be reached through his personal email at dengsimon2000 at yahoo dot com.

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