Ugas Khalif Airport in Beledweyne has been closed amid a tax dispute since Friday. The closure caused disruptions in air travel as a tax collection dispute between two high-ranking officials in the HirShabelle State escalated. The ongoing feud involves Yusuf Ahmed Hagar, the Vice President of HirShabelle, and Muse Salad, the Minister of Transportation and Aviation of HirShabelle.
Beledweyne, Hiran region, HirShabelle, SOMALIA. By Jama:
Only African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) aircraft could continue landing at the airport. All other flights have been cancelled until the officials solve their dispute.
This closure is not the first time Ugas Khalif Airport has become the centre of a political dispute. In late June, the airport faced a similar shutdown when Ali Jeyte, during the establishment of a self-proclaimed Hiran State, declared that no planes could land in Beledweyne, causing days of operational paralysis.
Jeyte ordered the suspension of passenger flights at Ugas Khalif Airport from 24 June to 28 June. The sudden disruption left many passengers stranded, leading to a tense atmosphere in the region. In an interview, a representative from a local travel agency confirmed the halt. He attributed it to Governor Jeyte’s directive, stating, “There were no flights today, and there will be none tomorrow because of the letter from Ali Jeyte.”
Amid that disruptive atmosphere, a meeting took place in Beledweyne, declaring Ali Jayte Osman the interim President of the new Hiran State. However, the existing HirShabelle administration has never recognized this entity.
Following his election, Ali Jayte pledged to address administrative inefficiencies and security challenges that have long plagued the people of Hiran. He stated, “We will bring together all the communities of Hiran to build a government of their own. We can’t just say that I am the governor of Hiran and will remove al-Shabaab. We have achieved significant strides in terms of security during my tenure as governor. Now that you have elected me as your interim President, we will strive for even more progress.”