[Yei, South Sudan, TCT] Radio Spirit 99.9 FM in Yei has resumed its broadcasts after a two month blackout resulting from a technical malfunction.
The Radio went live last Saturday, playing gospel songs in its signal testing. A fuel crisis and technical hitches greatly affected local stations in Yei, forcing them to reduce their period of operation.
The bishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSS&S) in Yei, Hillary Luate Adeba, officially launched the radio on Tuesday, November 1st, to restart its normal programming.
Bishop Hillary said the station will continue to carry out its usual activities of evangelism and broadcasting messages of peace, socio-economic development and politically positive issues. He added that the station will not run conflict-instigating stories.
“This is a modern way of passing information to the public and we thought it is very important at this time. I will not be happy when people come here to talk personal politics of hatred,” he said in a live talk show to mark the reopening of the station.
“We all need to combine our efforts as government, citizens, and church to work hard and support this station so that it keeps on serving,” the bishop Hillary said, adding that sustaining operations of local radio stations would enable them to positively transform communities.
The ECSS&S diocese under Bishop Hillary will now oversee the running of the station for the next six months. The bishop said this role was delegated to the church by the radio owner, Dan Peters, following his recent visit to neighbouring Uganda where the transmitter was repaired.
According to station officials, thunder struck Radio Spirit two months ago, damaging its transmitter.
A Catholic-run radio station, Easter 94 FM, was the only remaining station at the time, but it also suffered a similar strike just days after its counterpart went off air. The radio is still off-air after the strike damaged its transmitter.
There are four radio stations in Yei, namely EPC 88.4 FM, Radio Easter 94 FM, Liberty 90 FM and Spirit 99.9 FM. The radio stations are privately owned – three are church-based - while Liberty FM is a commercial station.
Since reopening, Radio Spirit, one of the favorite radios in the area, has now joined Liberty FM and EPC radio, which are broadcasting.
Bishop Hillary said resuming broadcast at this critical time is aimed at giving hope to the citizens traumatized by conflict. He said it was his hope that the station will support the struggle to achieve peace in the country, which will allow refugees and displaced people to return home.
“When I visited the refugees in Uganda it was very emotional and a bad situation,” he said. “I was weeping with them because of their suffering...They told me that they wanted peace and stability for them to return home soon.”
He said peace can be easily achieved when citizens coexist in unity regardless of their differences, stating that the government, development partners and the civil society need to do more to bring political stability to the country.
He was dismayed by unnecessary gunshots in Yei which he said could scare civilians and cause them to flee to neighbouring countries or to the rural areas for safety.
“Let us not frighten our people with gunshots at night. Let us improve the level of security in Yei town so that the remaining people will not run away,” he said. “The government needs the presence of the people. They cannot govern trees or grass when the people run away here.”