Somaliland: “Egal Airport is Not Sharma El Sheikh”

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Say Airport Officials as they refute alleged insecurity and misuse of UK availed security equipment

Egal Airport in Hargeisa Somaliland is Not Sharma El Sheikh in Egypt

By: Yusuf M Hasan

Somaliland sun – Aviation officials have full confidence in the security measures currently in place at the main Somaliland airport in Hargeisa.

This was revealed to Somalilandsun by a team of the Egal international Airport officials including the facility manager Mohamed Yusuf Ismail and his aviation security chief Adnan Isaac Ali both affirming in great confidence that internationally approved standards are in place and operating finely.

According to the airport Manager Mohamed Yusuf Ismail there are two different security agencies providing safe conduct of activities and passage for passengers namely state supplied units from the Somaliland police force that are responsible for the entire 13kms sq compound and a private firm providing aviation security.

“Everything that comes in or goes out of this airport must pass under scrutiny of police officers” said the manager adding that the stringent security checks begin for one at the first entrance gate where body check for persons and car searches are undertaken”

First Security check before entereing Egal International Airport in Hargeisa SomalilandAfter confirming that people and vehicle are safe, that is, without any weapons or other objects that are illegal at airports the police allow passage for entry into the parking lot of the airport where more officers keep a hawk-eye over things.

Somalilandsun can confidently confirm that the entire 13kms sq compound of the airport receive similar attention from the police force whose officers are not only at entry and exit checkpoints and compound but all around the entire perimeter fence.

Informing that the police are generally in-charge of security at the Egal airport more specifically responsible within external areas ther airport manager revealed that a private contractor Shield Risk Management-SRM has the mandate for aviation security that is internal safety for luggage and passengers both embarking and disembarking.

On alleged insecurity at his airport and misuse of security equipment supplied courtesy of the government of the United Kingdom, made by Shire Duale in a piece published by Somalilandsun titled Security gaps at Hargeisa airport Mohamed Yusuf Ismail said that malice was the main intent while stressing that Egal Airport is Not Sharma El Sheikh”.

second security check before entering Egal airportAccording to Shire Duale if terrorists could smuggle explosives and plant them in a plane at an airport with international credentials like Sharma El Sheikh that resulted with over hundred Russian tourists losing their lives recently after their plane exploded over the Sinai courtesy then the allegedly low security Egal Airport could result in a major disaster.

Negating the comparison between his airport and the one in Egypt’s Sinai and acknowledging lack of empirical knowledge about Sharma El Sheik the Egal Airport manager said “Apart from the high quality security tools in place coupled by the high quality of aviation security personnel, international airlines operating in the country are here after strenuous security assessments thence satisfaction”

Queried on the alleged misuse of security equipment donated by the British people and government the Airport Manager stated that, despite the fact that SRM has operational control his office has general oversight thence vouch on the proper use and maintenance of the equipment as per guidelines of Adam smith international the consultancy firm charged with supply and installation of the tools as well as training of SRM security personnel.

In conclusion the Egal Airport Manager though very open with security details within his complex became not only very evasive but refused to reveal anything about the $10 security fee charged each passenger entering or leaving the country via the airport.

Despite his evasiveness reliable Somalilandsun sources indicate that the $10 security fee charged is as result of advice by Adam smith international thus ensure the equipment are maintained properly since neither the donor government nor recipient one had made financial arrangements for such.

“Every four months the security tools are checked by Trimpal Digital Services a Kenyan based company contracted by Shield Risk Management” informed our source adding that the regular checks also entail knowledge transfer which has availed local expertise for minor repairs and emergencies.

With an average 6000 passengers utilizing the Airport monthly, the accrued sums are barely sufficient to cover the operational costs of SRM that include management , maintaining, staff and related costs.

While a casual calculation might reveal gigantic figures from security fees the British consultancy firm suggested $13 as the initial fee and supposedly to increase by $2 annually but the current figure was agreed upon and still remains to date.

On the Aviation security system operated Shield Risk Management which is mandated with ensuring insecure items neither enter or leave the via the airport, the SRM chief security officer Adnan Isaac Ali said that it is impossible arriving and departing passengers to pass a needle unnoticed.

“The difference between Egal and Heathrow Airports is size and volume of traffic but security wise everything is the same” said Adnan while stressing that both airports are serviced by the same supplier.

Apart from the usual tools used to scan for unwanted items in luggage and passengers which is similar to that utilized at international airports and more so at Heathrow the entire length of the 13kms sq compound is under 24/7 CCTV surveillance monitored by SRM.

Informing that he is in-charge of over 80 highly trained security personnel whose skills are regularly brought to speed both in-country and abroad Adnan revealed that the stringent training is related to some highly sophisticated security tools unavailable in most neighbouring countries.

Security at ther entrance to the arrivasl and departure area of Egal AirportIn addition to Traditional Metal Detectors, the CCTV cameras that ensure a 24/7 surveillance of every Place and person within the airport perimeter, there are two types of X-Ray Inspection Systems namely X-ray 100-100 used for big baggage search and the highly sensitive X-ray 60-40 which used for passenger and light mostly hand held luggage plus Body Scanners.

But the pride of Egal Airport security staff and SRM is the EDT Machines rare in the Horn of Africa which is used to scan for explosives, weapons drugs and other sensitive contraband items, “Even Djibouti does not possess EDT” states Adnan while trying to conceal a visible glow on his face.

The youthful aviation security chief says that owing to rigorous training of personnel undertaken by Adam Smith International and the Kenyan Firm that work closely with SRM and subsequent certification if staff competency approved by IATA ,Security wise Egal airport is secure to the maximum.

Through perusal of documents Somalilandsun confirms that foreign airlines currently operating routes in Somaliland and those planning to so in the future including Kenya Airways, have undertaken security assessments whose outcome in the case of Ethiopia airlines and Flydubai is a 100% approval.

Supplementary to the pre-flight service security assessment and as per international norms each foreign airliner operating in Somaliland undertakes related appraisals every six months just to be on the safer side not to mention the hawk-eyes maintained by ICAO, an international body deeply entrenched

On the distressing issue raised by Shire Duale pertaining to a company called Horn Risk Management- Horn Risk Management-HRM utilizing the $10 security fees charged and misuse of equipment bough with UK taxpayers money in addition to the uneven playground facing Flydubai and Ethiopia airlines operations in the country, allegedly since HRM is owned by the two foreign airliners local competitors, Somalilandsun investigations revealed that:

  • · HRM is not directly responsible for security at the airport
  • · Aviation security at Egal international airport is run by Shield Risk management a subsidiary of HRM
  • · The owners of SRM are local Somaliland citizens with aviation experience but currently not associated with any airline operating either in the country or elsewhere
  • · The security Equipment though utilized by SRM is under the exclusive charge of ministry of aviation and air transport
  • · Neither the Governments in London or Hargeisa pay SRM any service fees thence utilization of the passengers charged $10 security fees.
  • in addition we have discovered that Shire Duale was among those interested with the Egal Aviation security contract and infact hosted Adam Smith during its initial forays into the country not to mention that his is a close relative to a very highly placed person in the government.

On the more serious allegation that HRM owners cum airline operators pose a security risk to their competitors especially Ethiopian and flydubai, the fact that HRM is not responsible for aviation security at Egal Airport and that SRM proprietors are neither involved in or owners of any airline business in Somaliland or elsewhere negates the uneven playing field and security threat angle.

A security consultant with a major INGO operating in both Somaliland and Somalia who sought anonymity told Somalilandsun that even if Aviation security operators at Egal Airport also own airline companies undertaking any action geared towards chasing off foreign competitors will destroy them completely as well.

“If any issue of insecurity crops u at the airport, passengers will reduce dramatically while aircraft insurance fees shall increase exorbitantly thus making the Somaliland route unprofitable which shall subsequently result in service withdrawal by all companies both local and foreign” said the consultant.

Under these circumstances which company would want to conspire against a competitor in lieu of the ultimate outcome of eventual loss of income for both?

This Somalilandsun investigation on Security status at Egal Airport follow orders by its editorial board the first ever interference and requests by stakeholders who were prompted by the article Security Gaps at Egal Airport.

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