Mogadishu (UM) – The roads in Mogadishu have been closed for the best part of Ramadan. At least all the main roads have either been closed or have had limited access for very few drivers because of heightened security concerns during Ramadan.
A few days ago President Farmaajo ordered all the roads open and for the security sector and the public to work together to strengthen security through cooperation and not the confrontation caused by closed roads. But this message fell on deaf ears as most of the city still remains either closed or only accessible by a privileged few.
The road closures have divided Mogadishu residents and have led to protests. It has also inspired a social media campaign which is still active today.
“This is the worst year of business and it maybe the first I make a loss,” said Nur Osman a clothes trader. ” Did is a profitable month but if the government closed roads and scared people who will buy from me?”
” Closing the roads is letting Al- Shabaab win because they achieved their goal: they made the government and people scared and angry with each other,” said a bajaaj driver whose earnings for Ramadan have been the worst all year. “My livelihood is to take prove places but I can’t do that with closed roads.”
Many interviewed UM had similar views but most agreed what made the situation worst was the aggressive conduct of government security forces against the public.
“The security officers are unprofessional. Almost everyday I had a gun pointed at me for walking to work. This is wrong because I am not a criminal. I am a porter and if I don’t go to work then I have nothing to feed my family.”
Many interviewed complained that while there have been no explosions so far this Ramadan, there were many assassinations.
“Even when roads are closed people are still dying so the government must come with a better plan,” said Muse Ahmed, a student.
Despite the widespread anger about road closures, there were those who supported it.
“Ramadan is violent statement making month for Al-Shabaab and the government has a duty to protect its citizens,” said a senior security official on the condition of anonymity. “While the conduct of some security officials had been regrettable, on the whole they worked with the public.”
“The people know the situation and they should be patient. The government is just doing its job,” said Nur Isse, a NGO worker.
Senior security officials have confirmed to UM that the roads will be closed and inspections will be more thorough during the remaining few days of Ramadan.