Eritrea's White Elephant Airport Fiasco | An airport without airplanes for decades being shown as Eritrean success story
• Massawa International Airport
It all started in earnest in mid-1990s when Isaias was having a conversation with persons unknown and learned about air pressure. At sea level, airplanes can take off with full loads; at higher altitudes (like Asmara), that’s a struggle.
Immediately, he came on TV to tell us that Asmara is the worst place to have an airport and what Eritrea needs is an airport at Massawa, which will be a Free Zone: a tax-free hub of industrialization. So, don’t be surprised if I don’t spend a penny on Asmara Airport which is essentially the same as it was 33 years ago when it was called Yohannes IV.
Some ተጻባእቲ like us at http://Awate.com had written that the construction process—micro-managed by Isaias Afwerki—was a clusterfበcK and part of the purpose of this presentation by YouTuber “MaEbel” (Abraham) was to prove us wrong. Come and See (What We Want You To See), he was told.
It’s true that all the terminals were constructed by world-famous European companies. But nobody criticized those: the subject was the runway and the taxi, which was constructed by Gedec, Gedem and Segen Construction (#PFDJ parastatals) which gets their free labor courtesy of indefinite conscription, ie what MaEbel was escaping to begin with (ውጩ: 2,000 ዋርሳይ ኣብዚ መድቦም!)
AN AIRPORT WITHOUT AIRPLANES
MaEbel was impressed by everything. How HUGE (ገዚፍ እዩ!) it is; how clean it is (unlike the smelly foreign ones), the luggage cart is free (unlike the airports in the West), there are 3 scanning processes (making it one of the safest airports in #Africa, said the tour guide). It even has these fancy jimagiigs where you place your bag and, gasp, it weighs it for you!
The airport employs over 100 employees, housed in the 7 offices upstairs. It’s open 24 hours: said the host. Busy, Busy, Busy.
Did I mention there was not a single airplane seen, nor a single passenger in the video?
Then it was a drive on the runway: it’s many kilometers long (it’s standard: good luck A380 pilots.) The tour guide observed protocol and asked permission to cross and empty runway. All protocols observed.
I have mentioned there wasn’t an airplane in sight: not parked not landing not taking off, right?
Isaias admitting his diabolical failure
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THE RUNWAY DISASTER
As http://Awate.com reported in 2002, the runway was constructed by Gedec, Gedem & Segen with zero feasibility on a subject as elementary as wind direction. It was riddled with so many design flaws it was converted to a taxi way and a new runway built. (That’s why the project took 6 years to complete.)
The earthworks company, Gedem, did such a shoddy job the relevant Minister refused to pay them. They appealed to Isaias Afwerki who paid them, and transferred the noisy official to be ambassador South Africa. The official said, nah, and flew back to his second home in the US.
His wife is American so they called him a US spy (of course.) South Africa was without Eritrean ambassador for a year (not that it makes a difference.)
The Korean company which built the terminals, Keannam, was sent packing and replaced by China Tianjan (CTIETCC.)
MASSAWA DOESN’T EXIST
Said the president in one of his interviews, mocking its historic Pearl of the Red Sea status. That applies also to its airport: demanding huge energy to air condition it, empty, but so clean.
The airport, despite its “international” name, was built to serve local needs and it didn’t because 4 airlines that were launched one after the other, failed spectacularly. That’s why Isaias uses Qatar, Emirati, Ethiopian, Saudi planes depending on latest friendship.
Why don’t you talk more, asked MaEbel of his host. We are doers not talkers replied his host.
Son, they don’t talk because most of what they actually DO is as useless as an airport with no passengers, no planes
Most surreal Eritrean video of 2023!