Somalia has ordered all aircraft originating from Kenya to land in Mogadishu in what appears as the two neigbouring countries flexing their muscles fueled by the ongoing marine dispute at Indian Ocean.
In a Notice to Airmen (Notam), the Somali Federal Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said all flights to and from Kismayo must stop-over in Mogadishu without a guarantee of permission to proceed.
“International and local flights from and to Kismayo must route via Mogadishu,” the government’s aviation bulletin said.
Mogadishu, Somalia capital will then vet all goods and people entering the war-torn country.
Previously, aircrafts from Kenya were allowed to fly directly to Kismayo, Mogadishu and Garbaharey airports on top several other airstrips scattered across the country.
Traders and ordinary people are the ones going to feel the pinch the most in the new regulation. Kenyan forces who man Jubbaland’s main airport are also expected to be affected by the ban.
“They are technically punishing the traders who travel to Kismayo, the economic hub of Somalia. Since, if you live Nairobi you have to go through Mogadishu to access Kismayo. From Kismayo, you will have to travel to Mogadishu, Wajir and then back to Nairobi,” a Somali businessman told the Star, a local Kenyan publication.
Some analysts believe that the move is meant to tame Kenya's association with a number of federal states that have in recent times threatened or want to break away from Somalia.
They include Jubaland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland, Puntland, Somaliland and Southwest Somalia.
Somalia, however, is also simply retaliating Kenya’s move to ban direct flight to Nairobi from Kenya Mogadishu.
In a memo dated August 27, addressed to the officers in charge of Wajir International Airport, the Interior Ministry directed that aircrafts from Somali should land in Wajir for multi-agency security checks.
The Kenyan government also directed that visas and immigration endorsements be issued at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), unlike previously where they were issued in Somalia.
Kenya and Somalia are currently locked in a bitter dispute over a 100,000-square-kilometre marine territory with potential oil and gas deposits in the Indian Ocean with both countries claiming ownership over it.