Monday September 9, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) - The militant group Al-Shabaab has ordered a construction company reconstructing the National Stadium in Mogadishu to cease operations, local media reports indicate.A report carried by Universal TV says the group which was ousted in a joint AU and Somali forces offensive from the stadium in 2011 is directing the company to stop working at the site and withdraw its equipment.
The report further notes Al-Shabaab made direct phone calls to casual workers at the stadium not to report to work but it was not immediately clear what reasons the group gave for the directive.
The stadium which had since 2011 been a strategic base for AMISOM forces was handed over to the government in August 2018. Soon thereafter, reconstruction efforts which involved bush clearing under a government led citizen volunteer programme started.
According to the media report, the contractor is negotiating a ‘tax deal’ with the militant group to allow it continue with the reconstruction.
Al-Shabaab is known for such arm-twisting tactics to force payments from businesses in Mogadishu. In 2018, the group directed that all football pitches within estates in the city be closed down.
The latest move to indirectly solicit money from the stadium contractors comes amid widespread reports that the group taxes imports in the port of Mogadishu.
A report by the Washington Post last week indicated the group is privy to all imports to Mogadishu via the port and contacts traders to pay taxes on the goods.
Somali government has not commented yet on the stadium issue.