The pilot of the plane carrying former presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and a host of MPs to Beletweyne was advised to ‘fly at his own discretion’ to Beletweyne Monday,
Authorities at Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) told up to 600 metres of the runway was wet but in line with aviation rules, gave the pilot the right to fly at his own discretion.
According to the aviation body, the runway was wet and not safe for flights to land following the ongoing flooding in Beletweyne that has since displaced thousands of people.Prime Minister Hassan Khaire cut off his travel to Beletweyne owing to the state of the airport.
HirShabelle President Mohamed Waare told journalists earlier the two presidents turned a deaf ear to his advice regarding the state of the airport. “Since the airport is under my jurisdiction, I advised them against flying to Beletweyne because I should also take responsibility for their safety,” Waare said. “Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told me I am just the president of HirShabelle and not an aviator.”
The pilot tried at least two times to land before finally landing the Folker 50 aircraft according to SCAA officials in Mogadishu.
According to aviation rules, the pilot is the one in command and can decided based on advice from aviation authorities whether to fly unless in instances where the aviation body deliberately notifies the pilots of closure of the airport.
Sources separately told HOL the distrust between the opposition leaders and the Federal Government may have necessitated the decision by the former presidents to dismiss advise against flying to Beletweyne. Former president Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was barred from travelling to Kismayu in late September to attend the inauguration of Jubbaland leader Ahmed Madobe sparking rebuke by the opposition leaders against the federal government.
The two presidents accused the federal government of ‘weaponising the airspace’ and denying members of the public their right to travel. In Mogadishu Sunday morning, the opposition leaders remained stranded for a couple of hours with some MPs saying the government had intentionally blocked them from traveling to Beletweyne.
The opposition leaders were delivering humanitarian supplies to victims of the ongoing floods in Beletweyne.