In Somaliland, many people die in a traffic accidents on the road each year, with hundreds of people injured, vehicles damaged and properties lost in these accidents. During the last week alone, at least four accidents were reported and the local newspapers and websites covered the accidents which left behind tragedy and sorrow to many families and to us all. We are accustomed of hearing such news day after day, little actions are taken and the main issue remains unsolved. A problem well defined is a problem half solved, so the causes are at least well known to everyone, but let me remind you the likely causes of those accidents: road conditions, driver errors or negligence and problems related with road design, maintenance and repairing. The most common form is clearly poor road conditions.
Most of the highways and roads in Somaliland are built long before Somaliland regained its independence in 1991 and are regarded as old fashioned and sometimes dangerous. Those roads were designed for using not more than ten or twenty years. Now, they are almost in bad conditions and pose a great danger to drivers ,passengers and cars.
Although the government has repaired some roads and built new ones, yet the main roads and highways are at their worst conditions. Poor road conditions such as potholes and debris are the cause of serious car accidents. The highways and public roads lack concerning road signs, good maintenance and repairs, good drainage and road markings. They are too narrow to be used by two cars in the same way; and passing the next car is almost difficult.
If you ever traveled by a car to Berbera from Hargeisa or the vise versa, you will observe the bad conditions of this highway. During the night, the light of the cars nearby make the movement difficult; while the roads are too narrow the light from the coming cars get directed to the drivers eye, such that he/she will be in a difficult position of moving the car straight.
Roads are the bases of development,connecting the regions and serve the passage of goods and commodities easily and quickly from one city or village to another. It is one of the most important infrastructure and a network for communication. On the other hand, we are concerned by the safety and well being of our citizens, therefore we urge the government to address this issue and act wisely and immediately in regard to this unsolved problem. Both the municipalities and the central government must make reasonable efforts to provide safe road ways and must be concerned of the safety of their citizens.
In addition to that, it is important to note that drivers have the responsibility to drive safely, be more careful and report their challenges to the concerned agencies. The new roads to be built , should also be well designed and considerations given to the fact that our nation is growing and many people tend to have their own cars, adding a burden to the poorly conditioned roads. In the meantime, the municipality and the government should maintain the old roads and make all possible repairing. At least, the road signs and markings should be made, so that the driver knows when and where to slow down, and becomes aware of the dangerous twists and turns. Many drivers even don’t know the speed they have to use because roads don’t have the signs telling that.
The government had always let this problem unsolved, giving cheap excuses and blindly diverting our eyes to a bigger issues, such as the recognition. As a new government took power, we urge them to double their efforts and set up an strategy for the betterment of our roads and highways. We believe we can do. The change we needed begins from here. Actions are stronger than promises. Let your promises and policies functioning and achieved.
Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi –Shawky
A journalist and social activist.