Somaliland: Bajajs Add Flavor to Life in Berbera

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The writer samples Mohamed's Bajaj/photo by Glenda Kwek By: Yusuf M Hasan

BERBERA (Somalilandsun) – Despite the sometimes-scorching heat Bajaj are enabling residents to move easily and do business in the port city.

The Bajaj a three-wheeled motorized rickshaws, which are common in developing nations, are slowly taking over public transport in a number of local cities like Borame and Berbera.

Apart from providing residents with a cheap motorized means of transport the Bajaj is also a source of income for hitherto unemployed operators in Berbera who are averaging a daily net income of $35 with an after all expenses paid take home of $15.

According to Mohamed Ali who operates a Bajaj, life has changed dramatically for him, having been a long term refugee in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya where he completed his ‘O’ level education but on voluntary return home to Somaliland 8 years ago he found life next to impossible.

“Am now able to support my parents who I sent almost $200 a month” said Mohamed whose ownership of the life giving Bajaj came courtesy of an aunt in the Diaspora.

The 29 years old, who is planning to get married at the end of the year urged other unemployed youths countrywide to acquire the three wheeled motorized scooters which are cheap to buy, operate and have good returns for those who do not chew Khat.

“Apart from wasting the few coins they earn Khat chewing Bajaj operators also lose a lot of income due to the time they spend chewing which entails sitting comfortably with an assortment of refreshments etc” says Mohamed

A number of Berbera residents told Somalilandsun that the Bajajs have established an ease of movement for various activities in the port city which is engulf by severe heat year round.

According to M/s Asha Guleid a mother of five, the Bajajs that charge $3 for the longest journey within the city have removed the formerly exorbitant taxis from the streets.

She stressed that the Bajajs have also introduced a new form of cost sharing thus when you hire one the driver is open for picking other passengers traveling in the same route thus share the cost.

Berbera joins Borame as the second city where Bajajs not only dominate commuter transportation but have pushed taxis out of business as well.

At the same time it is worthy for the government and other development agencies to explore avenues of promoting these three-wheeled motorized rickshaws like Bajajs as a form of creating employment for the countries youth which apart from generating income would reduce the high levels of illegal immigration/human trafficking in addition to providing citizens with an easily accessible and cheap form of transportation.

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