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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Somali 'chewers' cheer in flights
Khat chewer
It is chewing as usual in Mogadishu again

Chewers of the mild stimulant, khat, have been celebrating in the Somali capital after flights from Kenya resumed.

Kenya banned all flights to and from the neighbouring country in what was described as an anti-terrorist move.

The ban dealt a big blow to the lucrative business in the mild stimulant which is mainly chewed by men who sit in groups for long hours.

Following the resumption of flights on Tuesday the price of khat in the Mogadishu dropped from $20 to $6 per bundle.

The BBC's Daud Aweis Jama in Mogadishu says that the city became an even more dangerous place during the shortage because militiamen suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

Reaction

Some though are not welcoming the news.

Some families had saved a substantial amount of money because family members could not afford the exorbitant prices
The BBC's Daud Aweis Jama
"Some families had saved a substantial amount of money because family members could not afford the exorbitant prices," our reporter says.

"But from Tuesday it is chewing as usual, which means less money and time for the family."

Captain Himat Vaghela, the managing director of Capital Airlines, welcomed the resumption of flights to and from Somalia.

His airline ferries more than 15,000kg of khat daily to Mogadishu.

During the ban farmers and traders were losing around $300,000 daily.

Conditions

Tough new conditions have also been imposed on the flight operators and khat businessmen.

Khat transporters
Only airport personnel will be used as loaders
No passengers will be allowed on flights transporting the mild stimulant from Kenya to Somalia.

The new conditions also stipulate that aircraft used to transport khat should have a maximum crew of two pilots.

Cargo screening procedures have also been tightened, with the process taking much longer than was previously the case.

Loading of khat and other cargo onto the aircraft will from now be carried out by airport personnel.

Before the ban was imposed the task was left to private loaders hired by the khat businessmen.

Captain Vaghela says the new conditions are time consuming but aircraft operators are more than willing to comply




SEE ALSO:
Somalia protests over flight ban
23 Jun 03  |  Africa
Flying in Mogadishu's daily fix
03 Jun 02  |  Africa
Khat shortage hits Somalia
31 Jul 01  |  Africa


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