Going above and beyond their call of duty, Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan rehabilitated a long-neglected runway at the Malakal airport, providing essential infrastructure support to the area.
Going above and beyond their call of duty, Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan rehabilitated a long-neglected runway at the Malakal airport, providing essential infrastructure support to the area. The Indian peacekeepers serving the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) repaired and rehabilitated one of the tarmacs at the Malakal airport that had been left inoperable and damaged. Laden with significantly-sized craters, the runway had not been used since 2013, when the crisis in the country broke out.
The runway had thick tall bushes at its peripheries and the arduous work of rehabilitating the long-neglected runway had to be scheduled around the arrivals and departures of airborne objects taking place at an adjacent airstrip pertaining to the same flight operating facilities, a press release from UNMISS said. Due to such conditions, the peacekeepers had to spend an unprecedented number of evenings and weekends at the airport.
“This project fell far beyond the realm of our regular work here, but we took up the task and cracks head on. We are very pleased with the outcome,” their commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Supratim Datta said in the release. “The biggest challenge of them all was actually to get hold of the bitumen, because it is not common here,” he said. With its road infrastructure in a predominantly poor state, South Sudan relies heavily on air transport. Malakal, some 600 kilometres north of Juba and inaccessible by road, is no exception.
Malakal airport manager David Garang Mangok applauded the sustained relationship with the peacekeeping mission, which has contributed greatly to the maintenance of infrastructure of the aviation sector. “I’d like to commend their good quality of work, support and cooperation,” he said. Last year the Indian peacekeeping engineers based in Malakal rehabilitated 205 kilometres of a major service road to Melut, improving business and humanitarian services between the two cities. “As engineers, it is a dream for us to be able to do work on infrastructure development that has a positive impact on the lives of the people. We are very happy and thankful that we have been able to do something for people of South Sudan,” Datta said.