• Development achieved under duress
• Total lack of roads impede development
• Sorry state of health can move steeliest of hearts.
By: M. A. Egge
Somalilandsun – The Zaila area residents and their leaders are lingering in the fear that they were poised to be completely “cut out from the rest of the country and become the eighth Island of the nation”.
This phobia emanates from the serious communicative transportation brake-down due to harsh terrain conditions and total lack of road maintenance services.
Despite the limited development aspects achieved under duress, the area security stability is very commendable hence its impact practically quite palpable.
However its foremost basic public services needs of/for the area residents in the name of the health sector are promiscuously quite lacking as revelations appear to this reporter upon visiting the district over the week.
The sorry state of the health sector at the regional headquarters can move the steeliest of heart to mournful sobs.
Whereas the local MCH has been shut down for “expected rehabilitation”, the makeshift temporary one has ironically been established in a dilapidated room at the also “shut-down local general hospital”!
The flamboyant youthful duo of the deputy regional governor and deputy town Mayor Messrs. Abdilqadir Aden Yusuf and Sa’ad Dahir Egge were candid and openly frank that the transport problem was quite severe that the regional headquarters was almost cut out from the rest of the republic. “The road gradually sinks and disappears underground” explained the deputy RG of the Zaila Asha-addo route upon learning that the writer took this road.
It is a road that vehicles stopped using for quite a long time and we just stumbled upon it naively.
“If dug”, he explains of the first few hundred meters along this road from the town, “out would come to excavations of houses long immersed and buried under the ground”.
The deputy RG affirmed the fears of the council leaders and area local residents that the severe lack of roads was too serious that the easiest mode of transportation has now been reverted to the sea-routes.
“People take to boats when they travel to even Berbera nowadays”, he says and adds, “It’s true that area is technically just as an Island”!
Apart from the larger commercial tracks who reach Zaila for customs inspection and again return along the same Law-yaddo road to veer off at Tokhoshi. Smaller and normal pickup vehicles, station wagons or saloon cars are almost totally non-existent or unseen at the town.
The Tokhoshi-Zaila raod is a cut-throat one which can not allow two-truck by-pass especially the dangerous points which goes for miles!
Ironically, the residents argue, Zaila district is now the major customs revenue collection point in the country with at least four booming stations viz Lawyaddo, Zaila, Harirad and Asha’addo.
“With all these collections why doesn’t the administration inject back to the community?” laments an elderly Abdi Sh. Muse who was feeding at a restaurant.
Worse was the state of the impeccably built local hospital given the 1939 architect of the British colonial administrative era.
With the hospital operation theater long ago substituted to a delivery room, the hospital has been shut down.
It had all hospital building structures requirement complete with a morgue and a laundry centre.
Zeila women diaspora in Norway had donated to the cause of the rehabilitation of the closed local MCH Centre.
The Deputy Mayor says work on it would start soon.
The deputy mayor Cllr. Sa’ad Dahir Egge said that an international organization, Merlin, used to run it but left several months ago.
He says that the Health Minister Hon. Hagle-tosie had informed them that the Somaliland Red Crescent Society (SRCS) was to take over, something that has not yet happened over three months later. Whatever the case, the hospital which had modern clinical-tailor-made beds furnished, were spread in hauntingly utter disuse.
Efforts to seek substantiation from health officials as to the circumstances the Merlin group left or why either the SRCS or health department has not taken over could not be fruitful.
The Health Minister’s phone was switched off and that of the deputy could not be raised.
Similarly area SRCS boss Mr. Mohammed Haji Noor only promised to call back.
Lastly we were able to be referred to the SRCS country coordinator Mr. Ahmed Abdi Bakal who explained that technical issues had set back their entry into Zaila district.
Mr. Bakal elaborated that his agency operated at Boon and Dila but have been directed to take over five maternal and child Health (MCH) centres in Zaila District including the modern hospital building at Harirarad.
The SRCS chief said that the project was to be established courtesy of Unicef’s Essential Package of Health Service (EPHS) progress.
He affirmed the fact that polices on health issues and their national management were run by the ministry which directed them to serve Zaila.
SRCS ran the Baki and Dila Health facilities.
Worse of all, travelling from Hargeisa towards, and up to Zaila, one would find conspicuously total lack of, or few if any, sings of administrative presence.
Foot patrols of uniformed security personnel are quite obscure.
The dozens of small towns, villages or centers do not have either the national or police flags as per expected norm. (See also Editorial).
When the question was poised to the deputy regional governor, he lamented while conceding the fact, that there was indeed logistical obstacles hence disclosed that even the four police vehicles in the area had broken down.
Incidentally, he himself does not have transportation.
The officer in charge of the health services of the MCH Mr. Mohammed Abdillahi Ainan sadly explains the dilapidated situation of the hospital, operating from a makeshift MCH within the closed hospital whose wall plasters have peeled off.
Apart from the administration department, the financial one is the other visible one just as education, fisheries and health only.
Ministries that have representation in the region through personnel presence and have no premises are industries, public works, justice, religious affairs, information, water, minerals and quality control agency.
The provision of services for the region by the regional administration is still delivered from borrowed premises!
A local councilor who happens to be the outspoken former Zaila mayor Cll. Abdillah Bodle was sarcastic that “Somaliland might soon trace and search for Zaila which is in danger of being severed from the rest of the country!” Cllr. Nassir too, echoed the same sentiments.