Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Hargeisa Airport will remain operational for another six months, after urgently needed funds were provided by UNDP and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to proceed with emergency patchwork, a statement from UNDP in Nairobi disclosed Friday.
The 150,000 US dollars is only a fraction of the financial resources required to carry out essential rehabilitation, but will keep the airport open while other funds are sought.
"This is not a long term solution," ICAO Chief Technical Adviser, Joe Brunswig, says.
"The emergency patchwork will deal with the immediate safety concerns and avert the closure of the airport for now, but the fact of the matter is that the landing strip needs to be completely re-carpeted," he explains Hargeisa Airport is crucial to the humanitarian, developmental and commercial work that goes on in the region serving approximately 4,000 passengers per month from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Middle East.
The airport was built in 1973 to cater for the much smaller sized Aircraft of the time.
It was closed during the civil war in the early nineties and reopened in 1997.
Over time, erosion and heavier aircraft than it was built for have broken up the surface of the landing strip.
The resulting potholes and loose gravel could damage the aeroplanes, raising serious safety concerns.
Since the reopening of the airport, the Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia (CACAS) and the Somaliland authorities have been re-patching the problematic parts of the landing strip, but no comprehensive renovation has taken place.
"UNDP is particularly concerned about the Hargeisa Airport," Country Director El-Balla Hagona says.
"This is not just about humanitarian flights, the airport is also a business stimulant.
"The more the facilities that Somalis themselves have, the higher the chances of their own developmental initiatives bearing fruit.
" CACAS, which operates from Nairobi, Kenya, is a joint effort between UNDP and ICAO, and falls under UNDP's Capacity Building for Governance Programme.
It was formed in 1996 to ensure the safety of air transport operations in the absence of a recognised central government.