Monday February 22, 2021
A spate of violent attacks on public transport vehicles plying routes between southern Somalia’s Hiran and Galmudug regions is having harsh economic effects on local communities.
Hassan Mohamed Ahmed, a driver, survived two attacks by armed clan-based groups as he was driving through Gobo village, Hiran region, in December and early January. People are now afraid to travel along this stretch of road and vehicles have to take a four-hour detour to avoid the danger.
“There used to be two or three passenger vehicles leaving here daily, but now there’s only one vehicle every four days as there are no passengers,” Hassan said.
Hassan, who has been driving for 12 years, was banking on six trips a month and a salary of $450. But after the conflict erupted, the vehicle owner told him to stop driving along the route and he has only earned $150 since then.
“It has had a ripple effect on almost everyone, even the porters, who used to load and off-load goods on the vehicles are jobless,” he said.
Abdirisaq Omar Mohamed, another driver, is worried for his family and five children as his savings are almost over and he has had very little work due to the insecurity.
“I used to earn $300 a month driving between Hiran and Galgadud but currently I am only getting about $90,” he said. He is getting some private driving work for a businessman and has to swap with a driver from another clan at Bacda, 50 km outside Beledweyne.
Abdirisaq, who has been working for nine years as a driver transporting animals and vegetables between central Somalia and Puntland, said he has heard of 10 people including passengers and drivers who have been killed along the road.
The lack of transport has affected local farmers and the movement of goods. Abdisalam Mohamed Ibrahim, owner of a two-hectare farm in Damalow, Beledweyne, had to sell off this month’s vegetable harvest cheaply because he could not transport the goods out of Hiran. He normally sells to businessmen exporting to other regions.
The father of 10, whose farm has also been hit by locust invasions and river floods, has big loans to pay off and nothing to show for his efforts.
“I came to the market with a variety of vegetables this morning, but there are no customers,” he said.
Abdisalam, whose farm is his living, has $130 monthly education fees to pay, with five children enrolled at Mujamac primary and secondary school. He is not sure how he can meet the payments.
Adawe Jimale Mohamed, a resident of Beledweyne, was exporting vegetables to regions including Somaliland, Garowe, Bosaso, Galgadud, Dhusamareb, as well as to Ethiopia. However, due to the clashes and the blocked road Adawe has not sold anything for a month.
As a father of 11 he is also worried about how to keep the family going and to pay education fees. Local people are hoping for a positive outcome from an ongoing reconciliation meeting between the warring clan groups.