Monday, December 03, 2007

How to close a country for a week

And this morning I returned from Mali aboard a standing room-only Air France flight to Paris.
Being landlocked, Mali relies on airlines to supply its lines of communication with the outside world. Therefore when, a week before we arrived, the Minister of Transport decided that Bamako must resurface its only runway the news came as a bit of a shock to Air France, who run the only daily inter-continental flight out of there.
This move, which amounted to taking an entire country and hanging a sign on it saying "Closed for repairs", was made with just a couple of days notice and left hundreds of Malians stranded thousands of miles away from home with all the attendant expense, emotional wear and tear and visa difficulties.
It passed without any comment from the world's press.


  1. Typical of the worlds shameful press though. There were no pictures of dying children, pictures of carpet bombings, pictures of our heroic boys trolling into the suberbs of Baghdad in tanks for them to report.

    Cynical me?

  2. I feel like I must apologise. A mate of mine, a fellow Irish man was in Mali tarmaccing some drives and had a spare day. He called by the Airport and spoke with the Minister. The Minister was initially reluctant to get it done so soon, but my mate told him that he wouldn't get the same price again and that it would be at least the third week in January before he could fit him in again.

    With a deal like that the Minister felt that there was no option but to close the airport.