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Somalia Transportation
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    In 1988 the total expenditure for transportation and communications was US$57.8 million. Nearly 55 percent of this amount was for new infrastructure; 28 percent was for rehabilitation and maintenance of existing infrastructure. This activity must be understood in the context of the ongoing civil war in Somalia; much of the infrastructure particularly bridges in the north, either had deteriorated or been destroyed, as a result of the fighting. As of early 1992, no systematic study existed of the infrastructural costs of the civil war.

    At independence, Somalia inherited a poorly developed transportation system consisting of a few paved roads in the more populated areas in the south and northwest, four undeveloped ports equipped only with lighterage facilities, and a handful of usable airstrips (see fig. 6). During the next three decades, some improvement was made with the help of substantial foreign aid. By 1990 all-weather roads connected most of the important towns and linked the northern and southern parts of the country. Three ports had been substantially improved, eight airports had paved runways, and regular domestic air service also was available. But in early 1992, the country still lacked the necessary highway infrastructure to open up undeveloped areas or to link isolated regions, and shipping had come to a virtual halt because of the security situation.

    In 1990 Somalia had more than 21,000 kilometers of roads, of which about 2,600 kilometers were paved, 2,900 kilometers were gravel, and the remainder were improved earth. The country's principal highway was a 1,200-kilometer two-lane paved road that ran from Chisimayu in the south through Mogadishu to Hargeysa in the north. North of Mogadishu, this route ran inland, roughly paralleling the border with Ethiopia; a 100-kilometer spur ran to the Gulf of Aden at Berbera. By early 1992 much of this road, especially the northern part between Hargeysa and Berbera, was relatively unsafe because of land mines. Somalia's 1988 plan provided for another connection from this main route to Boosaaso on the Gulf of Aden. Somalia had only one paved road that extended from north of Mogadishu to Ethopia; all other links to neighboring countries were dirt trails impassable in rainy weather.

    Four ports handled almost all of Somalia's foreign trade. Berbera, Mogadishu, and Chisimayu were deepwater ports protected by breakwaters. Merca, just south of Mogadishu, was a lighterage port that required ships to anchor offshore in open roadsteads while loading and unloading. Mogadishu was the principal port of entry for most general cargo. Berbera received general cargo for the northern part of the country and handled much of the nation's livestock exports. United States aid enabled the doubling of the berths at the port of Barkera and the deepening of the harbor, completed in 1985 at a cost of US$37.5 million. Maydh, northwest of Erigaro, was the only other and much smaller northern port. Chisimayu's main function was the export of bananas and meat; the meat was processed and packed at the port. The United States also financed the US$42 million development of Chisimayu port in the latter half of the 1980s. Merca was an export point for bananas. In 1986 the Somali Ports Authority launched a modernization project for all ports, with concentration on Mogadishu. The cost was estimated at US$24.4 million, of which the IDA provided US$22.6 million as a credit.

    Mogadishu International Airport was the nation's principal airfield; in the 1980s, was a runway extended to 4,500 meters one of the runway was Africa's longest with United States financial aid. The airport was further expanded in 1989 by Italy's contribution from its emergency aid fund for Africa. Only Mogadishu offered international flights. Somali Airlines, the nation's flag carrier, was partially owned by Alitalia, the Italian national airline. Somali Airlines in 1989 replaced its fleet of five aging 707 airplanes with one Airbus 310, making it a one-plane international airline. In 1990 domestic service linked Mogadishu with Berbera and six other Somali cities; flights were scheduled at least once a week. As of April 1992, Somali Airlines had no scheduled flights, domestic or international, and no other regular flights existed.

    NOTE: The information regarding Somalia on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Somalia Transportation information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Somalia Transportation should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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