Services and amenities
By Heikal Omar
The transaction is quite simple: a local government charges tax on its residents and, in turn, provides services to the people. Taxes come in many forms: business licenses, parking fees, garbage and water levies, and so on. Thus, residents – legitimately – expect clean cities, clean, well tarmacked roads within certain jurisdictions, clean, regular water supply to their homes, good drainage systems, well-stocked and equipped hospitals and clinics. The provision of such services is the evidence that a local government is in touch with its residents’ needs, and is actually executing its mandate.
Not so in Mogadishu. Here thelocal government treatsresidents with disdain: it neglects them, offers bad service and does not tolerate complaints.
Rain is supposed to be a blessing but do you explain choking floods after a medium downpour? A local government is supposed to ensure proper drainage systems within its jurisdiction. Drainage should be constantly unclogged and functional waste management systems installed. Local governments too must come down hard on owners ofany property developed on riparian land, as they are responsible for blocked drainage systems and diverted waterways and courses. No human should lose life as a result of poor drainage and erection of buildings on protectedlands.
Residents must be accorded reliable and efficient means of disposing of the waste they generate. Once a local government cannot offer that, residents become victims to cartels who extort them just to do their job. The cumulative effect is that residents turn any open space into a dumping site, opening the door to all manner of health hazards. This is how Mogadishu has lost its magnificence and beauty.
Elsewhere, while business licensing is an important tool revenue collection and regulatory tool, nevertheless the municipalities must not charge extortionist fees for such licenses,or license businesses involved in illegal activities. Investors must be guaranteed protection and a conducive working environment for their business once they pay for such permits. It is wrong, nay immoral, for the local government in Mogadishu to charge licence fees and fail to provide for basicservices.
In regard to public transport and infrastructure,citizens should be assured of reliable and efficient public transport,whichmust also be affordable. The roads must be well built and marked and controlling traffic done professionally. This would save on the time that citizens waste in traffic, so that and their productivity is channelled towards meaningful endeavours. It can never be too much to ask for a reliable system that operates on timelines that can be trusted by citizens.
Provision of basic services like maternal healthshould be made accessible and affordable to residents. Municipalities must own several clinics so that they cushion residents from the exploitation by private medical service providers. Resident who cannot afford the luxury of going to private facilities must be accorded the same at public facilities. To date, this remains a pipe dream in Mogadishu.
Urban organisation is an integral part of any city’s fiscal planning. Through it, buildings, roads and other infrastructural projects are erected according to a specific order. This, in the long-term, determines an urban centres’ aesthetics, ensures effective service deliveryand aids economic growth. On this and several other fronts, Mogadishu has failed. The situation is so dire that in cases of emergencies, getting help through, including ambulances and fire engines, is a challenge in itself.
Mogadishu must ultimately face up to the challenges of a rapidly changing society and make itself attractive not just to local but foreigner investors as well. As Somalia continues to rise and attract investments, it is important that the local municipality prepare itself for this scenario. An increase in population will greatly put a strain on existing facilities. We cannot wait for this happen before react; dream cities are built on vision, not reactions.
The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Warsan magazine