HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — Plans for a multi-million-dollar upgrade and extension to Egal International airport at Somaliland’s capital have taken a major step forward, revealed Aviation minister on Sunday.
Mr. Ali Mohamed who returned from a three-week long trip from the People’s Republic of China, has revealed that a Chinese firm will be arriving soon to upgrade and expand the facility to international standards.
During a press briefing at the VIP Lounge at Egal airport, Mr Mohamed said “the equipments will start arriving after the Chinese new year and the process will take up-to two months”.
He said the Chinese were eager to work with the African people and expressed great interest in the African continent. “You do be amazed how they have transformed the Ethiopian road system,” he added.
The minister said their trip to China has been fruitful and he plans to discuss it with his cabinet first before revealing it to the general public.
The Mayor of Hargeisa, Mr. Hussein who also spoke there said, the trip has been very successful and that they had visited five states in China and two of them had Somaliland representatives. He added that the Chinese are well aware of the difference between Somalia and Somaliland.
Mr Hussein said they had met with members of China’s Overseas Investment Group, who promised to invest in Somaliland. China has been heavily investing in Africa in recent years in a bid to win supporters in the continent and also to secure access to raw materials for it’s growing industries.
Mr Hussein, concluded a Chinese delegation is due to arrive in Hargeisa in the near future.
When the work is completed Egal airport expected to cater
for some of the world’s biggest commercial jets and ultimately drive air traffic growth in the region, both inbound and outbound. Egal international airport will become one of the largest airports in East Africa and an important hub for passengers traveling between East Africa, Middle East and parts of Asia.
Security at the airport will also be upgraded to meet a request by a number of airliners including Ethiopian airlines, who suspended their direct-flights to Hargeisa following five suicide bomb attacks on October 2008.
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Currently, the airport service a number of locally operated airlines and Kenyan based, East African Safari Air Express has announced early this month (1st February) it will launch direct flights from Nairobi to Hargeisa.
Mr. Mohamed has stated that the airport has received an investment of an undisclosed amount from local companies and individual investors.
The Chinese company has also signed a separate contract with the mayor of Hargeisa, Mr. Hussein Ji’ir, to rehabilitate Hargeisa’s long neglected roads.
The Chinese have also vowed to assist Somaliland in the field of education and have extended a warm invitation to the Ministry of education to visit China.
This is the first time the airport and Hargeisa’s public roads are getting proper upgrade since 1960.
Hargeisa airport was named after long-time Somaliland politician and it’s first Prime Minister, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Haji Egal, who died in the South African capital in 2002.
Somalilandpress, 15th February 2010