KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Residents of this southern province complain the Kandahar International Airport lacks many facilities and services, leaving a lot to be desired.
Flight delays, disappearance of luggage, dirty environment, drug trafficking and non-availability of basic facilities have damaged the airport’s reputation.
Ghulam Hazrat, a resident of the provincial capital, told Pajhwok Afghan News the airport was known inside and outside the country. But it still lacks standard facilities.
Besides existing issues at the terminal, several problems exist in the transportation section as well, he noted.
Getting to the airport from far-flung areas of the city is no easy task, according to Hazrat, who said people preferred to travel by road.
Travelers have been complaining of security searches and a sub-standard power system. During biometric scans, electricity vanishes into thin air, with passengers forced into waiting for the electricity to be restored.
Hazrat said the canteen inside the airport poor was also in shabby condition. It is not worth visiting particularly in the winter season when passengers could not sit there.
He asked the authorities concerned to work for improving services at the so-called international airport because — a globally known facility which has slipped into a state of neglect.
Darakhshan Hameedzai, another resident of Kandahar City, said he felt ashamed of calling the airport an international facility, which did not have even elemental facilities.
He said upgrades to the airport were promised so many times. But the commitments are yet to be honoured. Repairs of the air-conditioning system, fans, chairs, loudspeakers, electronic stairs and other facilities are yet to be undertaken.
He said even an ordinary airport used conveyor belt but luggage were given back to passengers at the Kandahar airport like they were distributed charity goods.
Hamidzai said the Kandahar airport should have separate passenger corridor for military officials till the terminal.
He said the Kandahar airport needed a parking area for private vehicles in front of the terminal, domestic and international terminals, electricity screens to show flight times, a standard cafeteria and restaurants to become an international airport.
The airport officials also accept the above mentioned problems.
Security officials at the airport said mega projects could not be executed because they did not serve the interest of some.
Kandahar airport chief Mohammad Salim Azizi said in the past, mismanagement and personal interest did not allow investment in the airport.
He said despite being a key part of air corridors the Kandahar airport had been neglected for unknown reasons.
He said the airport lacked modern search facilities and uninterrupted electricity and as a result drugs were easily smuggled through the airport abroad.
He said security forces used hands to search passengers at the airport. Last year, 54 drug smugglers with 30 kilograms of heroin were detained at the airport, he added.
Meanwhile, Fariba Ahmadi, a lawmaker from Kandahar termed the airport as “a huge shame” and said after spending millions of dollars, the airport witnessed to positive changes.
However, she said the government had appointed a delegation to visit the airport and evaluate its works.
Currently reports about about corruption and differences over leadership of the airport are coming in.
Few days ago, Lt. Gen. Obaidullah Barakzai, Kandahar airfield commander, was arrested after he wanted to send 5.5 million Riyals to Dubai illegally.
According to intelligence reports, he has long been sending money to foreign countries.
Ahmadullah Faizai, director of the airport, has been absent from office since long time for unknown reasons and the airfield affairs are done by an acting director.
Three years ago, the authorities said the Kandahar airport would be an international transit airport, but not development could be seen.
The Kandahar airport was built in 1996, then the only international airport in the region.
The airport has 13,000 acres of yard —a part of it has been given to foreign forces and in one part 205thAtal Military Cops and some other firms have established buildings.