For several years, the Somali-land government has failed to rein in the excesses of Somali-land immigration and security operatives at its airports and besides the transfer of some officials, concerned public and private agencies have never taken effective and decisive action to stop the damage to the country’s image.
Hargeisa Egal Airport (HGA) is disgraced every day by the nefarious activities of Customs, Immigration officials. There is massive extortion going on and passengers billed to travel overseas and who have met all the conditions to do so are denied this right because they did not pay money to some of these security operatives. Starting from the arrival or departure from Hargeisa airport, bad behaving and greedy faces of different airport employees approaches passengers telling aggressively that the airport employees are badly paid and need money for their daily expenses no matter how. There is absolutely no visible discipline, administration, seniority or duty division among employees at the air port which is in place.
These officials demand money as if it is their right; they do it without flinching and give orders with gusto, without caring who the person they are asking to give them money is. They do not care that they could be caught; neither do they care that they could be challenged and sacked. What gives them this confidence?
We have witnessed in 29/10/2014 that ten (10) Somali-land student mostly of these students were came from Awdal region has gotten a tuition fee from the Turkish Government which means that they will freely study during the university year 2015-2018. Seen the Somali schooling system, this was a great challenge and brought to the young students this ambition to finally gotten the opportunity to complete their education in their various fields.
Then, with an original and valid visas when they presented themselves at the airport to travel to the Turkish Republic, the Immigration officers of Hargeisa Egal International Airport send them back home informing them to pay a sum of 1.000 USD each one of 3 of the students (3.000 USD)..
Surprised the young students demanded why they would have to pay this fee since their visas are valid and them boarding the plane? Then the Immigration officer reply that they would have to Travel from the country who delivered the visas which was the Turkish embassy in Cairo Egypt otherwise they will have to pay this amount of money if they want to travel from Hegaisa Egal Airport.
Subsequently, one of the officers approached the young students, giving them a Cell Number to reach him at anytime at night and told them that he could arrange and bring down the deal to 500 USD each one of the 3 student (1.500 USD).
When they called him at night, he said that he will only help them to get to the boarding and 2 of the students paid each 500 USD to pay the officer Fee’s when the third (#3), out of financial resources, tried to legally complain to the aviation Ministry where the Ministry says that this did not concern the Ministry but the Hergaisa Egal airport Immigration officer who has the right to decide on who should land and board. This is ridiculous and it show that there are understanding of illegally or irresponsibly charging and discouraging young students who got a dream tuition from a foreign friendly country. And at the same time its pictures the irresponsibility of the Somali-land Ministry of Interior and the Aviation Ministry to charge such an amount to citizens, local population regardless the value, rules, jurisdiction, and civil right. If event the rule says everyone should travel from the country that provided the visas it is right and people understand that, but to pay such an amount of money is truly not in the capacity of Somali-land people.
And it is reported that the rest of the young students where forced them to go to Mogadishu and the neighboring Djibouti where the visas of some of them has expired since they had faced this expensive obligation.
People should really ask themselves who is accountable for this fraud and corruption?
One cannot fail to perceive the air of hostility that envelops the atmosphere during check off/in of passengers and on arrival and departure.
Immigration officials smell naive passengers the way sharks perceive the presence of blood in the surrounding water. Many times they have literally stripped a first-time international traveler all the monies on him in order to allow him to travel. Watching them engage in this ugly trade, especially at peak hours ignites a volcano of rage in one. As they examine the passengers’ documents, they would identify those they think can part with money and seize their passports, asking them to enter one small office at the airport. There they would delay the passenger until it would be minutes before the take-off of his flight. At such critical time, the innocent passenger would not have any other choice than to empty the contents of his wallet to satisfy the unscrupulous Immigration officials so that he won’t miss his flight.
Many people see traveling overseas as going to war because they literally battle with the security officials at the screening section anytime they travel out of the country.
Failure of Authorities
Over the years, concerned authorities have failed to check the excesses of these operatives. And it is not on record whether other concerned authorities have taken any punitive measures to check the excesses of their officers posted at the airports, especially Hergaisa Egal Airport where most of these crimes are committed.
Having said all that, as I am from Awdal especially Borama , the real enemy of the people in Somali-land is the corrupted politicians in Hargeisa. This must be challenged otherwise people will suffer the impact of the corruption and that will seriously undermine the astronomic achievements of the hard working people in Hargeisa, Borama, etc as well as the peace which is the inevitable frame of real life.
by Muhyadin Ibrahim Kawrah