Mogadishu port and airport still closed

Mogadishu- Somalia (PANA) -- Armed groups opposed to the recently installed Transitional National Government (TNG) have prevented the re-opening of Mogadishu airport and seaport.
The country's main sea and air outlets have virtually remained closed since clan-based armed groups ousted President Mohamed Siad Barre more than a decade ago.
Consequently, Somali merchants and small traders are still obliged to import and export their goods through the small jetty ports of El-ma'an, some 30 km North East of Mogadishu and Merka District, 200 Km South of the capital.
Mogadishu port was reactivated by the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) between 1992 and 1995.
However, its activities stopped again when UN pulled out from Mogadishu almost six years ago.
Although the TNG took over the port's management from local militia early this year, a warlord, Mussa Sudi Yalahow, who controls the coastal Mecca and Medina districts, has prevented the effective resumption of port activities.
Yalahow is a member of the Ethiopian-supported Alliance that contests the legality of the TNG.
He also controls parts of the beach in north-eastern Mogadishu.
After the departure of UNOSOM Mogadishu faction leaders had temporarily opened the Port.
However, the move was short-lived because one of the faction leaders lobbed shells at all Mogadishu-bound vessels.
Ships were then forced to call at nearby jetty ports.
This led the closure of Mogadishu port operations.
Mogadishu International Airport has also remained closed obliging all chartered flights to land at Ballidoogle, 100 Km south of the capital.
Only commercial planes that do not belong to the IATA use the airport.
They connect Somalia with outside world through Nairobi, Djibouti, Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
Somali Airlines ceased operations in 1990.
It is not clear what happened to its fleet, although unconfirmed reports allege that the top management personalities had hired out one or two of the planes.
Smaller non-macadamised airstrips are used by light aircraft operators in Kenya that import Kat, a stimulant heavy drug, widely chewed by Somalis on daily basis.
Nairobi University researchers recently concluded that Kat causes diseases like schizophrenia, hallucination, hypertension, sterility, insomnia and cardiovascular disorders.
Each day, about six light aircraft loaded with 9000 kg of Kat worth of around 300,000 US dollars land at an airstrip near Mogadishu.
Others airstrips are at Jasira and Issaley near Mogadishu, as well as Eel-Ahmed near Merca District.
Bossaso port, in the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland, is operational and is one of busiest ports in the Region.
The Red Sea port handles ships taking tens of thousands of camels, sheep and goats to Arabia and vessles with goods bound for Somalia.
The other operational port is Berbera, also in the unrecognised Republic of Somaliland.

09 june 2001 17:52:00

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