Sunday, 23 November 2014

Juba airport- life line for the country

Returning to Juba airport

The Juba airport experience.

One has always to brace oneself about what to expect in Juba airport. Will there be queues rather than a free for all, will it  be possible to spot and retrieve ones luggage amid the chaos and will they check it in detail before they put the magic chalk sign on the bag to signify all is OK?  Will they have installed some more ventilation systems to help in the sweltering temperatures inside a big hangar. Returning for the 4th time in past 10 years on November14  there were changes and some surprising. We had to wash our hands and get a kind of eye test for Ebola before we could enter the hangar and fill out a yellow form that had to given to immigration.  There were reasonably ordered  queues at immigration but no desk to fill out your forms.  Collecting  the luggage was usually a free for all but a more ordered free for all since more staff was around to identify your luggage. The ventilation and cooling system did not seem to exist or work but we got through OK. Leaving the airport for Rumbek it is always good to have someone who knows the secrets amidst the chaos of people and desks.   In  the  lounge where hundreds wait for  UN , WFP and a few commercial  flights it can be swelteringly hot. 

TIPS : If you are fortunate to find a seat sit beside one of the coolers near the window where you can even read a book but make sure you listen to your flight number and direction being called  since I know of some who have been left behind.  Spending another night in Juba can be expensive!

Amidst the present conflict it is vital the airport can run as smoothly as it does given the number of humanitarian flights moving in and out each day.  It is a vital channel of assistance to over 3.5 million people who need assistance in South Sudan  today.  

Bravo to all the people who help to run  it as smoothly as it does given the limitations and pressures of its present infrastructure.  Without them and the airport the suffering of millions of people would be much greater. 

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