“We are facilitating three pronged talks to resolve grievances of private water distributors” interior minister
“Our mandate is to collect taxes that are approved by parliament” Finance minister
“Private water distributors do not draw their supplies from government owned depots” Hargeisa water Agency Manager
“Water in the capital city is not shared equitably” Water Minister
“The demonstrating drivers and water tank owners destroyed municipality property” Mayor of Hargeisa
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The administration has been asked to effect urgent repairs to the destroyed 8 km stretch of road connecting Geed-deeble and Hargeisa city.
The urgings were made by the Elders committee appointed by the Guurti the elder’s upper chamber of the Somaliland parliament to investigate the recent riots in the capital city Hargeisa related to water shortages in which a death and injuries among civilians were reported during the tabling of their report to the house.
While tabling the report the select committee chairperson Elder Abdiqadir Mohamed Hasan flanked by his secretary elder Mohamed Ali Kahin said “Honourable Chairman and Members, The committee appointed by this chamber hereby presents its report on the findings of investigations pertaining to the recent water shortage riots in Hargeisa that resulted in major human and material losses after residents in some estates of the city rioted water shortages that were occasioned by cessation of services by private water distributors, Fortunately the disturbances were amicably resolved immediately thence the water shortage diminished after the striking water distributors resumed their vital services”
The committee chaired revealed that their investigations which were guided by the house recommendations pursued information through question the ministers of interior, finance and water as well as the mayor of Hargeisa, Manager of the Hargeisa water agency and representatives of the Private water distributors.
Manager of the government owned Hargeisa water agency
According to the manager the private water distributors do not draw their supplies from state owned sources which are cheaper and nearer than from their current sources all in the outskirts of the city of Humbo-Weine, Aw-barkhadle, Daraweine and Arabsiyo.
According to the city water manager, the private distributors do not access their water supplies at government owned water depots situated around Army, Police and Prisons headquarters as well as next to Edna Aden Maternity Hospital and Manhal Hospital.
As informed the Guurti committee the destroyed 8 km stretch of road linking Geed-deeble and Hargeisa need to be repaired thus increased availability of piped water to residents who pay the private water distributors Sl shs 8,000 ($1.4) for a 200 litres drum of water which the distributors acquire at Sl shs 1,900 ($0.05)
The Somaliland interior minister who diffused tensions by entering a temporary back to work deal with the striking water distributors informed the Guurti select committee that plans were at an advanced stage to have discussions three pronged discussions between the administration (Interior and Finance ministries), Hargeisa Municipality and Private Water distributors as well as the police commissioner.
The interior minister told the elders committee that he and his ministry are at the disposal of parliament in any matters required.
Minister of Finance
According to the minister of finance Abdiaziz Samale who briefed the Guurti /select committee on 31st Dec 2013 the mandate of his ministry is collect taxes that have been approved by parliament and the executive.
He stressed that as opposed to allegations by the water tank owners no taxes have been increased but in actual fact a reduction was effected by the government since tax holidays were given on imports of water and fishing gears as well as Cooking Gas.
As he urged citizens to pay taxes without fuss the finance minister told the elders that the current administration which has managed to collect hitherto uncollected taxes for the central coffers informed that the increase in government revenue has also see business concerns receive a reduction of 30%-50% in amounts collected.
Informing that the taxes disputed by the water distributors are utilized in road repairs and construction the finance ministry shall only stop demanding payment if and when parliament rescinds its approval.
According to the mayor of Hargeisa Councilor Abdirahman Mahmud Aideed ‘Soltelco’ attempts by the city municipality to reason with the striking water distributors as a prelude to avoiding water shortages for residents were not only unfruitful but ended with the destruction of municipality property by the water distributors.
On fees collected from the water distributors and their tankers by the municipality Mayor Soltelco informed the Guurti select committee SL shs 2,000 and 30,000 ($5) annually as garbage collection and Vehicle registration fees respectively.
Water Distributors Committee
According to the water distributors who claimed not being aware of the approved new road taxes asked parliament and the government to review things
Minister of water Development
The Select elders committee informed their colleagues that briefings by the water minster revolved around the discernible inequitable distribution of water in the capital city.
The minister who confirmed to the committee that the main city water supplies from Jalelo, Humbo-Weine and Geed-deeble do not reach residents in the south and east of Hargeisa also urged parliament to do need the needful to rectify the anomaly.
Recommendations of the Guurti Water Shortage riots investigation Select committee
“Honourable Chairman and Members we hereby recommend the immediate repair of the 8 kms stretch of road connecting Geed-deeble and Hargeisa in order to enable tankers of the private water distributors secure supplies nearer than their current sources in the outskirts of the city”
The Report was signed by
Elder Abdiqadir Mohamed Hasan –Chairman and Mohamed Ali Kahin –Secretary