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The Tale Of Two Cities; One Is Isolated And The Other Is Rubbish:
1. Borama is inaccessible:
In my last visit to Hargeysa, I wrote about things I saw there. In this article, I will briefly touch upon two news items that were in the press while I was there. One morning, I woke up and went straight to the reception of my hotel… the Imperial Hotel as I routinely did every morning. Normally at the front desk, there were a number of local newspapers, which all look alike and contained eight black and white pages. I did not normally read any of them. However, I used to give a cursory look at the first page. This time I saw a big title at the front page, which said, believe it, or not it happened. I was curious and started to read. I read it and the news broke my heart… a real breaking news. I will try to remember as much details as I can. The news read like this.
A man wanted to build a furniture factory in Borama. Since qualified technicians were not available in Somaliland, he went to India to contract two Indian technicians. He brought them to Hargeysa and after a couple of days took them to Borama where the factory was located. On their way to Borama, a big incident happened. After the car carrying the Indian technicians passed Dilla, the road started to terribly deteriorate. The two Indians looked at the road and saw no road. They looked at each other and realized that the road will only lead to the mountains. Immediately they realized that they have been had. They thought the whole factory business was just a decoy to kidnap them. As the road was too bad, the car could only move with a tortoise speed. The two Indians immediately sensed a danger. They thought they were kidnapped. Before they came to Hargeysa, they heard that Somalis are adroit kidnappers. In fact they were advised not go to Somalia because of that. The two helpless Indians did the only option that they could think of at the time and that was to run for their lives. They discussed the matter among themselves and decided to jump out of the car and try to disappear into the mountains. It was a shot in the dart, but the situation was that desperate. For them one thing was crystal clear, that the road would not lead to a town or even to a small village. There was no visible road in sight in the first place. While the car was moving very slowly, the two Indians jumped out of the car and ran as fast as they could into the mountains. The driver and owner of the factory were taken unaware and did not know what to do immediately. After some serious thought and consultation, they decided to stop the car and run after them in order to ask them what happened and why they were running away into wilderness land. The two Indians ran as fast as they could while avoiding any person on their way. The driver and the man who brought them ran after them as fast as they could in order to capture them. They did that with the help of the local people. The two Indians were finally captured, handcuffed and loaded to the car. They wept, cried, and said, “What have we done to deserve this. We have no money, what are you going to do with our bare bodies. We want to live, please leave us alone,” they pleaded.
The man who brought them tried to cool them down and tried to convince them there will be light at the end of the tunnel. The Indians insisted that there could be no town at the end of this road. The owner pleaded for their patience and told them; “please bear me for one hour only, as the town is only 10 miles away.” A group of men forcefully kept the Indian technicians in the car. The woes of the Indian technician only increased as the road got worst. After one hour or so, the car and the Indians arrived at Borama and the two Indian technicians were elated as they realized that they were not after all kidnapped. It was a big misunderstanding on the part of the Indians. “Please forgive us we were all wrong,” they pleaded and started to giggle. “Although we come from a poor country, we have never seen a road like this in our life. Do you call this a road? In India, we do not call this a road. May be Somalis call this a road,” they concluded. The driver disagreed and said, “No it is not a Somali road, it is a Dilla Borama road; it is unique and it is the only one of its kind that leads to a major regional capital city. But mind you guys while you are here, don’t leave the land out. The name Somali can not stand alone here without a land.”
Borama in reality is a remote area far away from the rest of the country. It is the wild wide West. It is the inaccessible land. It is a no go area at the far end of the World.
When the group reached Borama, the Indian technicians were freed and were told to relax and go wherever they wanted to go.
The seriousness of the road situation was also underscored in a demonstration of the Kulmiye Party to free the Qaran Party leaders. The demonstration was conducted in front of the Ministry of Interior. The top brass of the Kulmiye Party participated. The demonstration was calm, collected and peaceful, although the government insisted that it was illegal because they refused to take permission to do so. Speeches by the top office bearers of the party highlighted the inevitability of freeing the Qaran Party leaders. Most of the speeches as I heard were the usual regular rhetoric--- the Mujahid versus the Faqash, with the notable exception of one man who claimed to belong to the President’s tribe. “I am your cousin and I share members of my Party the illegality of imprisoning the Mujahidiin. Because the road between Hargeysa and Borama is rough, let the guys go,” he said.
I did not understand the relationship between the release of the Qaran Party leaders and the roughness of the road between Hargeysa and Borama. Some thought it was an honest inside information about a wider conspiracy in the higher echelons of the Kulmiye Party. However, for me it was a realization on the part of Kulmiye Party of the enormity of the problem that made the two Indians run for their lives.
2. Hargeysa is rubbish:
The other heartbreaking news was the one concerning the rubbish in the capital city.
One night I watched the evening news at the national television and I was surprised to hear what I saw. The local government, as the story goes succeeded in removing some of the garbage from the town but at the expense of bigger garbage outside the town. Responsible officials from the Ministry of Health and the Mayor were at the sight of the dumping. The sight was awful and dangerous. The official from the Ministry of Health was rightly alarmed at the looming humanitarian disaster that would come from the dumping ground. It stands to reason that the safe disposal of the garbage is as good as collecting it. The two must go together if the rubbish problem is to be solved. On the sight of the disposal, we saw all types of animals feeding on the rubbish. The animals eat the rubbish and the people eat the animals. Therefore, the city could feed itself with its own rubbish. Obvious that is rubbish to say the least. The most dangerous ones are the birds who feed on the rubbish and fly allover the land and spread the rubbish.
Collecting garbage from the capital city was a commendable job and surely, the capital city looked a lot better but far away from what you call a clean city. The capital city needed a lot more effort to remove the garbage that lay everywhere. However the effort will not fully succeed unless and until the animals wandering in the streets of Hargeysa are some how dealt with. I do not know how, but if we want to have a clean and a healthy city, the rubbish has to be treated right. The question of the collection and safe disposal of the garbage in a fast growing city is a daunting job and it will require a radical solution. That radical solution may not be in the hands of the Mayor now, but nothing is impossible. I can think of one radical solution. At the present time, the powers of the Mayor are seriously limited. Any radical change on his part would be subject to the approval of the council who elected him. He is solely accountable to them but not to the people of the city. Members of the Counsel are the ones who make him or break him. If he has to be more effective, he should be made accountable to the citizens of the capital city by electing him and his Deputy. That will require a change in the law. In that case, the solution of the rubbish problem lies with the legislature and not with the Mayor. To get a proper solution to the rubbish problem, a legislator or a number of legislators from the opposition party must table a rubbish motion in Parliament. A rubbish motion tabled by Opposition has the best chance of passing because UDUB is not an Opposition Party and cannot switch roles in opposition. If any body opposes the rubbish motion, such person or persons must be collected and dumped at the designated dump sight with the rubbish so that they could have a rubbish dance. I want Hargeysa to be as clean as a whistle even if that requires a rubbish dance.
Omar Ibrahim Hussein (Phd).