Backlash as Puntland and Somaliland dismiss Federal Govt khat flights suspension

Somaliland and Puntland have rubbished the Federal Government’s decree suspending all flights transporting the leafy stimulant khat from Kenya noting they will not abide by the order.

Somaliland Transport Minister Farhan Adam Haybe told reporters in Hargeisa the state was not bound by the decree adding it was an independent entity from Somalia.

“Somaliland is an independent country. My ministry welcomes khat imports,” said Haybe.

Somaliland imports most of its Khat from the neighbouring Ethiopia by trucks.

Similarly, the semi-autonomous regional state of Puntland equally took offense with the decree noting Puntland was not aware of such a decision.

“We have not been informed of such a decision and therefore it does not affect our airports. The Federal government did not in any way communicate to us it was intending to suspend khat flights therefore the decree is not relevant to us,” Puntland spokesman Abdulllahi Quraanjahel told the local media Monday.

In a statement addressed to among others the office of the Somali President and the Kenyan government through its Interior Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority, Somali Civil Aviation Authority general manager Abdiwahid Ahmed, said the cargo flights transporting khat (mira) had been suspended with effect from September 6 till further notice.

“The Federal Republic of Somalia is hereby informing all Mira cargo operators and anyone it may concern that Mira cargo flights and its operations into Somalia have been cancelled effective September 06/2016 until further notice,” read the letter in part.

The aviation authority did not cite any reasons but only indicated the suspension took into consideration special circumstances. Failure to adhere to the notice, the authority warned, equal consequences will apply.

Khat traders have confirmed the decree took effect this morning. “We were notified the same by the aviation officials at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that the decree stands,” said a trader who did not want to be named.

It is not however clear if the suspension is informed by the upcoming IGAD heads of states and governments summit scheduled for September 10 here in Mogadishu.

According to Somalia’s khat traders, over 20 flights carrying the crop from capital Nairobi have been flying to Somalia daily.

 

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