Somaliland: Water Suppliers Cease Services in Protest against new Taxes

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Hargeisa water distributors on strike

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The recent increase the amount of road tax is about to produce dry throats and unhygienic standards in Hargeisa city following the withdrawal of services by private distributors.

In an unprecedented move the Hargeisa City Water Distributors cooperative has ceased all its service provision as pertains to water supply to approximately 70% of Hargeisa residents due to the untenable cost of operations following the recent hike in taxes more specifically road based.

According to the spokesperson of the water distributors cooperative Mr. Abdilahi Aided Haydn water tank owners who make up the entire membership of the cooperative will not provide services until the government both central and local rescind the imposition of new and extra taxes.

In a press briefing Mr. Hayd informed that the cessation of water distribution services has culminated in the parking of the water tankers in lots next to Shiraqle fuel station and Crown hotel in Hargeisa where over 500 trucks and their owners, drivers and pump workers shall assemble until the new taxes are rescinded.

This action is set to exacerbate water shortage in the Somaliland capital city of Hargeisa where piped public water supply is connected to around 30% of the estimated 800,000 residents thus the private distributors servicing the remaining 70% and of course at a cost.

Queried on whether officials of his cooperative society had contacted the authorities before taking the service stoppage action, Mr. Haid who responded in the positive said, “We have met and discussed our concerns with the central and local governments to no vain”

On the outcome of the discussions the spokesperson said they consulted with the ministries of finance and interior whose advice was “you must pay the new taxes because they were approved by parliament thence out of our hands”

Water tankers arayed in their hundreds in joint anti-road tax protest in Hargeisa somaliland

The water distributors who say they are obedient and willing taxpaying citizens claim the newly imposed taxes places them in an untenable commercial situation considering the already heavy costs of vehicle maintenance occasioned by poor roads and low quality fuel, long distances where they acquire supplies not to mention wages to staff etc.

Apart from households others to be affected by the water supply stoppage include numerous industries like hospitality and Construction while service providers like hospitals will have to increase patient fees inorder to cover for expected exorbitant prices of availing the precious commodity.

Somalilanders urgently require sufficient and safe piped drinking water The new tax in dispute emanate from the ministry of the presidency’s Road Tax bill which was approved by parliament after a number of amendments and not to mention disputes among honourable members of parliament , with the zenith outcome of some of the honourable members deciding to settle the dispute not through debate and votes but through physical combat.

A similar protest is in progress in the city with former Egal international airport taxi operators blocking the road between the ambassador hotel and the airport in a bid to force the government rescind a decision by the aviation ministry to remove them from airport vicinity.

As the stand-off between private water distributors in place and the government with a reported budget in over $20m in grants for city water expansion yet to be availed bottled water is set to become the most precious commodity a resident of Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa can aspire to get.

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