By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – Burao town which is the administrative seat of Toghdeer region is also the country’s second biggest city and home to the largest livestock market in the Horn of Africa.
A lot of the region’s history is intertwined with the city for one reason or another of note being the declaration of Somaliland’s re-independence in 1991 that ensure the complete break-up of the former Republic of Somalia that was formed after British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland united in a voluntary marriage of convenience that ended after thousands lay dead mostly in the then northern region now Somaliland.
Without any doubt to the eminence of the town and occupants this writer who visited recently en-route to and from Erigavo observed a few changes worthy of mention as pertains to what is Good, Bad and Ugly in Burao.
For a long time residents of this town had to walk lengthily distances to attend work, shopping, seek medical care and other related activities of human beings due to the non-existence of public transport services since the few available only covered a few densely populated estates of the town.
But this time round the writer who has many friends and distant relatives in the town managed to visit a large number of them in the short duration of a day thanks to the profusion of a large number of three wheeled motorcycle taxis popularly known as BAJAJ.
The Bajaj’s have not only eased movement of low income citizens but created numerous employment opportunities for our young” Said Khadija Aden a mother of six children of whom two has perished in the Sahara desert and another somewhere in the seas of Europe while pursuing Tahrib-Illegal immigration.
Despite her misfortune Ms Aden says that she is sure that her eldest remaining son will not fall to gthe same misfortune as his brothers because he has a job with a good income thus uninterested in Tahrib.
Said she, “When the Bajaj’s first started operating in Burao I noticed that most of the drivers were the same age with my Son Khalid thus decided to buy one for him and praises be to Allah, he has turned out to be a completely responsible person who is now contributing towards family income.
Thence, The BAJAJs having minimized Tahrib, availed gainful earning, eased transportation difficulties and turned formerly rowdy and indiscipline youths into responsible citizens is surely worthy the award of The Good in Burao.
While I am not a believer in the thought, many especially Somalilanders in Western regions consider Burao a dangerous place where the knives and sticks carrying residents could explored in fits of anger that result in bodily grievous harm at any time.
“Even beggars in the town are very aggressive and demand handouts by force” is a normal saying by non-residents
Though this is surely not the norm, it is for sure that men not many carry knives or walking cum fighting sticks as a matter style and that occasionally scenes of violence where the weapons are used have been reported.
While this is bad enough scenes like the recent one in which an accused man pulled a gun at the regional court in the town, forcing the Magistrate to hide under the judgment table, the unarmed court orderlies-police to escape and citizens to turn the courtroom into a disco from the concoction of hoarse wails emanating from fear.
This badness and a clear disregard for the rule of law comes in the heels of another dirty incident in which a bride of three months was butchered by her spouse for no apparent reason that warranted such action.
While this incidences are not the sole preserve of Burao, the misconception held by many makes them over bloated thus The BAD of Burao.
The beautiful town of Burao which is one of the best in terms of town planning is home just like any other city in the country, to the multitude of makeshift Aqals/Bulls, traditional Somalia houses that have now taken a turn for the modern through use of multi-coloured tarpaulins which are purchased from refugees or UDPs benefected by international humanitarian organizations
The multi-coloured human chest level rooftops of the Aqals that is not unhealthy but pleasing to the eye is under threat from a new type of menace in the form of plastic bags.
Somalilanders who utilize plastic bags, bottles and containers for numerous purposes are also famous for haphazard disposal of these items but Burao has surpassed all the town having attained a concoction of colours green, yellow, blue, red, pink etc that adorned fences, garbage dumps, rooftops and every other nook and cranny of space that is fallow.
Is this the local municipality at its worst or citizens irresponsibility? Whichever it is the blend of multi-coloured garbage is THE UGLY of Burao
Articles from the writer’s visit to the Eastern regions
Somaliland: Solar Powered Income Generation
Somaliland: Local and Effective Refrigeration