Somaliland Minister of Aviation and Air transport Hon Mahmoud Hashi Abdi
By Goth Mohamed Goth
Somaliland Minister of Civil Aviation and Air Transport has for the first time responded to SFG airspace control claims during a press briefing held today at the Egal International Airport said, “Somalia has failed to comply with the framework agreement reached in Chevening, Dubai, Ankara, and Istanbul I & II, by delegations from the Federal Government of Somalia and the Government of Somaliland met in Istanbul between 16 and 19 January 2014 with the assistance of the Turkish Government.
The Aviation Minister started by saying, “As you’re aware of the SFG minister of Transport and communications claimed to have signed another agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which will expedite the full transfer of what used to be former Somalia airspace within two months this in breach of our previous agreements which was to create a joint-control body which manages both countries airspace and SFG unilateral Declaration over Airspace Control may have Dire Consequences on the flight aviation security of Somalia.
This kind of talk undermines the ongoing dialogue talks between the Government of Somaliland and the Federal Government of Somalia to reach agreement on future relations.
The Minister of Civil Aviation and Air Transport Hon Mohmoud Hashi once again reiterate that government of Somaliland is the legitimate and decision-maker within Somaliland Airspace and won’t allow its airspace to be controlled by any foreign country.
The Aviation Minister warned the UN and ICAO not to take irrational decisions without consulting the all stake holders as the airspace management clearly demonstrates the risks involved hence the need to avoid forgoing a holistic, conflict-sensitive approach to the matter and which may result to the creation of parallel air control by Somaliland authorities
Somaliland Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air Transport has of lately been preparing itself for the full transfer of the control of its airspace which was previously been controlled by Cacas and ICAO under the auspices of the UNDP and has successfully completed all the necessary preparations and equipment.
“Our Previous agreement was for the so called Mogadishu center which is now located in Nairobi and tasked with controlling the outer space of Somaliland and Somalia will be relocated to Hargeisa and the federal government will have the privilege to appoint who heads the joint committee with controlling of the airspace and airports but this was not the case with the SFG officials who seem not ready to adhere with previous arrangements the Government of Somaliland and the Federal Government of Somalia signed a joint communique during talks in Istanbul ,” he said.
In the communique, the parties agreed to nominate an Air Traffic Control Board, which will be established within 45 days. An ad-hoc technical committee, composed of four members (two from Somaliland and two from Somalia) will prepare the terms of reference of the Air Traffic control board.
Hon Mahmoud Hashi Abdi also warned local politicians to refrain from cheap talk especially when it concerns matters of national importance.
In 1993 the United Nations Developments Program (UNDP) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) jointly established a Technical Assistance Project to provide basic services to air transport operations through and within the airspace of Somalia. Upon its evacuation from Somalia in 1995, a temporary operational station was established in Nairobi. In May 1996, ICAO launched a Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia (CACAS) to manage the country’s airspace and provide basic aviation services. Seven years later in December 2003, another body replaced CACAS but with little substantive difference in its mandate or its shortcomings.
Beyond providing air traffic services to flights within and through the airspace of Somaliland and Somalia, these successive United Nations bodies failed in the fulfilment of the rest of their mandate: i) provision of technical and operational assistance at designated airports and to local administrations in Somalia; ii) establishment and operation of a nucleus civil aviation administration for the functioning of CACAS; iii) formulation and implementation of training program for national personnel; and iv) formulation of procedures and draft regulations required for the operation and maintenance of civil aviation activities.
Between 80 and 150 regular flights enter Somaliland and Somalia’s airspace daily. Each of these flights is liable to paying an estimated navigation fee of $275 per entry. Everything remaining constant between 1993 and 2011, a conservative estimate of total revenue (collected or not) thus exceeds $150 million. The self-supporting project currently generates an average of $9 to $10 Million a year. There has not been a full, transparent accounting of how that money has been and is being managed nor where it may be.