In an exclusive interview with Puntland Mirror editor Mr Abdi Omar Bile, the Mayor of Garowe City, Hon. Hasan Mohamed Isse (Goodir) talks about the infrastructure projects in Garowe city including the upcoming Somali Urban Development Project to be financed by The World Bank.
Puntland Mirror: Hon. Mayor Hasan Goodir, thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to interview you about the Garowe component of the Somali Urban Development Project with the technical and financial assistance of The World Bank.
Mayor Hasan Goodir: You are welcome.
Puntland Mirror: Hon. Mayor Hasan Goodir, late last year it was reported that The World Bank has approved to provide financial and technical assistance to urban development projects in three major cities in Somalia; Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Garowe. Could you give us brief update on the Garowe component of the projects and when the projects will commence?
Mayor Hasan Goodir: This World Bank funded project is very extensive and will immensely contribute to the development, urbanization, stature and panoramic view of Garowe city. The project is comprised of two subcomponents; 1) upgrading of key intra-city roads totaling of 28 km including the construction of two bridges and 2) Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building.
Puntland Mirror: It was reported that the project was planned to commence in February 2017. We are in the end of July 2017, what are the main reasons behind this delay? And who might be responsible for this it?
Mayor Hasan Goodir: There is no change in the project plan, no delay or despair. We are gearing up for the initiation of the project activities. The project BOQs have been finalized. God willing, Members of the District Council and I will travel to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda for works related to the project.
It is quite common that changes, say in donor countries of Europe and USA, have direct effects on the projects and other activities here. Now all aspects of the project planning and design have been completed and we are 100% confident that the work will begin and will be implemented as planned.
Puntland Mirror: There were unsubstantiated reports about attempts to divert parts of the project funds from Garowe. Are these rumours true? If they are true, who might be involved in this interference? And has the District Council done anything about it?
Mayor Hasan Goodir: There is not a grain of truth in those rumours. The project plan is fully in the hands of Garowe District local authority and Puntland government. There isn’t going to be any diversion, any cuts or anything to disrupt the project. The project is being carefully monitored and protected by Puntland government, namely the President and the District local authority is engaged in both the planning/design and implementation of the project. The project has passed the stage of possible changes or retreats and will be implemented as planned, God Willing.
Puntland Mirror: You mentioned that the project includes the construction of two bridges. Where will the two bridges be built?
Mayor Hasan Goodir: One bridge is planned to be constructed across the dry stream to Garowe General Hospital. As you know, the people – particularly pregnant women, children, elderly, and the sick – encounter daily challenges in crossing the stream to the hospital side by climbing up and down the stream embankments. The hospital side of the dry stream is also the home of university campuses, schools and other important institutions. This decision is in line with my election campaign manifesto and pledge.
The second bridge connects the 30th street to the main Interstate Road to Galkacyo across Af-dhuryaale area of the dry stream in the west. This bridge is designed to ease the heavy traffic congestion in the city centre by diverting transit goods trucks from the roads in city centre through the 30th street to the main Interstate Road towards the south and west of the country.
Puntland Mirror: Hargeisa and Mogadishu components of the projects contain subcomponents for drainage and solid waste management, didn’t you apply for assistance in those areas of city needs?
Mayor Hasan Goodir: Our initial component or first phase is confined to the two subcomponents I have mentioned before but we are very hopeful that there will be a second or subsequent phases where sanitation, waste collection and management and other priority needs will be addressed. One of the main priority needs is the development of viable drainage system for gullies and rain water in the city. The city also lacks sufficient quality clean water supply. We have sought assistance in dealing with these needs and we are hopeful that they will be included in future projects.
Puntland Mirror: You have recently started demolishing houses illegally built in public roads in some parts of the city. What is your objective and the need to conduct this operation?
Mayor Hasan Goodir: The ongoing operation of demolishing illegally built houses is part of our normal day to day work to improve the infrastructure, to rid the roads, streets and public land of illegally built and hazardous houses and to achieve effective town planning. On top of that, the ongoing operation has another objective, which is, to prepare the roads selected for the urban development project. As you are aware of the panoramic view, image, security, protection of the environment, development and economic growth are interlinked. That is why we are demolishing houses which were illegally erected, some of them more than 20 years ago.
Puntland Mirror: Finally, what message would you like to convey to the residents of Garowe city?
Mayor Hasan Goodir: I would like to tell the residents to work with the government. Anyone who has built a house illegally in a road or anyone whose house has encroached on a road or public land to vacate it. The government had made a decision, which it will not retract, to demolish illegally built houses. Our city is ahead of other towns due to its well-planned roads network. Therefore we are determined to further improve the roads and to establish appropriate town planning for the new emerging quarters of the city. Any major road improvement which is not part of this World Bank project, will be included in future projects.