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The Pride & City of Mayor Jiir
Special report by Rashid Mustafa Noor, (Assoc-editor)
Hargeysa, 1 September, 2007 (SL Times) – Ask Hussien Muhamud Jiir, the incumbent mayor of the capital, “what have you done for the city?” and you will get a barrage of descriptions of UN, EU, Norwegian or Danish-assisted local authority building works and renovation projects, but you will never hear any mention of important local authority services which have improved the well being of the city and its population.
Hargeysa residents know that the incumbent city mayor will not brag about how he brought about fundamental changes to the way the local authority manages and funds its key public services, or how he has transformed the local authority, or how it provides efficient and cost-effective services, or how it reduced duplication and waste between the various departmental sections of the local authority. Nor will the city residents expect the mayor to present details on how he has implemented policies for the local authority.
The mayor, in his speeches at public events and private functions, will often dismiss any criticism levied against him and the local authority. He will repeatedly claim that “the local authority is not the one at fault” and will blame the city’s residents for the sorry state of the public services which the local authority provides, because, according to the mayor, “the city’s residents do not pay the taxes and fees owed to the local authority”.
Mayor Jiir, often argues “how can we, in the local authority provide any services, when the city’s population are not willing to come forward and pay the local authority’s tariffs, taxes and fees?”
But Hargeysa’s residents will tell you that the one thing in which the local authority excels is in ‘collecting its tariffs, taxes and fees’. Every street trader, shop, store, café, restaurant, hotel, workshop, factory and office in Hargeysa has to pay some kind of local authority tariffs, taxes and fees. The city authority also, collects annual property taxes from every semi-constructed hut or dwelling, stone building, farms, enclosures or plots/land/acreages in Hargeysa and its surrounding districts.
One infamous method through which mayor Jiir collects the local authority’s annual property taxes from the city population is by removing the property’s front door/gate from its walled hinges and storing it in the compound of the local authority. The owner of the property will not get his/her front door back until all money owed to the local authority is paid. The owner will then have to transport the door back to his/her home and get it fixed back in place.
It has become a common practice for the local authority to confiscate front doors of rented properties occupied by the tenants, not the owners. Tenants and entire families in rented properties are left easy prey for unwanted intruders and thieves. The local authority and its incumbent mayor, Hussien Muhamud Jiir has refused to comment on the ‘unorthodox’ tax collecting methods used to terrorize its city residents.
On one recent occasion, the Ethiopian trade mission and consulate liaison office in Hargeysa had its front door removed and was held in the local authority compound. Despite the pleas of the Ethiopian consulate’s staff, the visiting tax collectors from the local authority took the consulate front entrance door and carried it away on the back of a local authority truck.
For the last few days, the local authority has been busy confiscating doors and gates belonging to properties with only a walled compound. Many owners of these properties have started to weld or cement their gates and doors to the property walls, in order to prevent the local authority from confiscating them. These property owners have stated to SL Times that even though they have paid their property taxes to the local authority, nonetheless, this does not change anything or prevent the local authority from taking away their doors or gates.
Hargeysa local city authority is famous for its poor record on refuse collecting. People were surprised to see the local authority clear rubbish and other debris from the city water drainage channels and gullies. The cleared rubbish and debris collected from these drainage channels were left on the roadside by the local authority. It was no surprise that after almost two months since the local authority decided to clear the city’s gullies and water channels, the waste is still waiting to be collected from the roadsides by the local authority.
The local authority of mayor Jiir has become more aggressive than ever in its land and property planning and building regulations. Entire roads have been axed by Mayor Jiir’s local authority and sold to private individuals. The leafy suburb of Boqol Jire is a prime example, where a road once existed and used by its residence becomes overnight a foundation for a house. This particular road is an exit road for the residents of the ‘old British built dam’ neighbourhood known as ‘Xero-Digag’.
In another plot of land, not far from this spot, the local authority gave the go ahead to one property developer to build on public water pipe mains which supplies water to entire neighbourhoods.
Mayor Jiir will proudly tell the residents of the city that when he was on holiday in UK, Holland or was invited to the USA by Somaliland Diaspora that he had the privilege to see how local authorities in those countries work and provide services to their residents. He will state that, “Such services are possible because the residents in these cities are willing to pay whatever taxes or fees which the local authorities demand from them. Until the population of this city (Hargeysa) become like those citizens of the west, not to moan and complain about the the city (Hargeysa) authority ”.
Source: Somaliland Times