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Banning tuk-tuks may be a knee-jerk reaction to a different problem

by Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
Saturday March 4, 2023

Banning tuk-tuks without considering the economic and social impact would be a short-sighted move that puts immense pressure on the public. Tuk-tuks are an essential mode of transportation in Mogadishu, enabling people to move around the city quickly and cheaply. The current ban on tuk-tuks operating after midnight puts pressure on those who work at night or need to travel for emergencies. Banning tuk-tuk would significantly negatively impact the supply chain, people's mobility, government revenue, and employment, particularly among young people.

In 2018, the local government decided to ban the importation of tuk-tuks to address traffic congestion and improve road safety. However, this move needed to address the underlying issues that made tuk-tuks popular in the first place. With a growing middle class and limited public transportation options, tuk-tuks are necessary for many Mogadishu people.

Tuk-tuks provide job opportunities for drivers and mechanics, who rely on this mode of transport to make a living. They are a source of income for the authorities. Each tuk-tuk currently pays a $15 tax every month.

Despite their benefits, tuk-tuks have faced criticism in Mogadishu. Some accuse them of reckless driving, while others claim that Al-Shabaab militants misuse them for their terrorist activities.

While some government members have suggested limiting tuk-tuk operations, they must provide clear reasons. This lack of clarity is concerning and suggests that the decision to ban tuk-tuks may be a knee-jerk reaction to a different problem.

If the government wants to address the issues related to tuk-tuks, it should consider alternative solutions considering a ban's economic and social impact. For example, it could regulate tuk-tuk operations to ensure they are safe and reliable or invest in public transportation to provide residents with alternative options.

One concerning issue related to using tuk-tuks in Mogadishu is the increased risk faced by drivers from the security forces. Law enforcement agencies have been accused of regularly killing tuk-tuk drivers, and this has caused fear and distress in the community. These incidents put the drivers' lives in danger and affect their families and the wider community, who rely on tuk-tuks for income and transportation. The government must address these issues and find a solution that protects drivers and the public while ensuring the safe and reliable operation of tuk-tuks in Mogadishu.

In conclusion, banning tuk-tuks without considering the economic and social impact is dangerous and puts undue pressure on the public. While tuk-tuks may have their shortcomings, they are an essential mode of transportation for many people in Mogadishu. Rather than implementing a knee-jerk reaction, the government should consider alternative solutions that address the underlying issues related to tuk-tuks.


Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim


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