Closing roads does not make the public any safer – UM


Mogadishu (UM) – The Somali people are continuous victims of insecurity. Insecurity remains the greatest challenge this government faces and the Holy Month of Ramadan is especially vulnerable to attacks from Al- Shabaab. So, logic would dictate the National Security Services would have a sophisticated plan to protect the public, their property and the country as a whole. It appears they have and this great plan is to close all the main roads so that no car, apart from government cars, can use the roads.

According to security figures who privately criticized the President’s decision to open the roads yesterday, were those who argued that there are cars filled with explosives in Mogadishu waiting to use the roads to kill people. Well, if this is the case, why can’t the security forces find these cars and their drivers by following their own information trail? Why must the entire city of Mogadishu, the economic hub of Somalia, be shutdown because of the security service’s inability to coordinate and cooperate to stop this supposed threat? Closing roads and shutting off entire neighborhoods because a senior government employee or Minister lives there is the kind of behavior that undermines public trust in government and its security operations.

The logic of closing roads for security is strange and not practiced anywhere else in the region. Granted, Somalia is unique in its insecurity but closing roads does not make the public any safer. Terrorists blend with the people to cause maximum damage so when the roads are closed they are also  waiting for them to open. The overall point of terrorism  is to terrorize and turn law abiding citizens against their government. In Somalia this is much easier than anywhere else because of the weakness of the government and the entire governance structure which is currently self serving. Even worse, despite the heightened danger, the government is still appointing friends with no training or experience to lead security operations.

By closing roads the image of failure is amplified. By closing roads, the economy that ought to generate domestic revenue during this profitable Eid Holiday is destroyed. By closing roads, the public and government grow further apart with every unkind word exchanged between the public and security officials who have also been pointing their rifles at them on many occasions.

Keeping the public safe and protecting Somalia from terrorism is the government’s number one priority. This is understandable and common sense. Without security nothing else is possible. However, protecting the public also means working with them to build trust and devising counter-terrorism strategies that do not punish the very people that they should be protecting.  It is possible to open the roads and allow life to go on while protecting the Somali people from evil. What this requires though is better security planning and implementation from the Somali security services.

The Somali people remember Presidential candidate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo promising he will not close the roads and disrupt people’s lives. Now, President Farmaajo must fulfil this promise while protecting his citizens like he promised.