Somalia’s economic recovery boosts fuel demands, posing danger
MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) — Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, which once earned the nickname of the most dangerous city in Africa, is recovering from the two decades long of civil conflicts and ideological wars, and heading towards rebuilding and economic recovery.
The city’s long time war, which enabled Al-Qaida and its local affiliate, Al-Shabaab, to establish their bases in Mogadishu and control most of the southern regions of Somalia, ended in 2011 after African Union peacekeeping forces AMISOM and Somalia national army defeated Al-Shabaab in the frontlines in Mogadishu and pushed the group from the city.
The return of the city to the control of the Somalia government and its backers from the African Union demanded privates business and increased the demand of luxury cars, electricity and internet, but the fuel business increase is the most feasible in the city, which has its positive and security concerns as well.
Fahmo Ahmed, 26, sells fuel on the edge of the main KM4 road in Mogadishu, one of the busiest of the town.
“I was selling fuel for the last three years. Now the number of the fuel sellers increased; there are also patrol stations, because there are hundreds of thousands of cars imported for the last 3 years,” Ahmed told Xinhua.
“The fear is that the fuel in the streets is always vulnerable for burning. It can simply burn if there is explosion; it can burn when fire touches it, and it destroyed many businesses for the last two years,” she added.
Though Ahmed knows how dangerous it is to sell unprotected fuel in the streets, she argued that she makes money out of the business and experienced increased customers as Mogadishu streets get more cars daily.
Saney, the head of the Mogadishu city rescue agency, believes that fuel business in the streets is a good sign of economic recovery, but he is also worried about the dangers it may pose in terms of safety of the people neighboring the fuel businesses.
“There were several times that parts of the city were destroyed by fire, most of the huge fires that caused millions of dollars damage were caused by fuel or were increased by fuel. But since we started the rescue department, we have so far achieved to reduce the damages,” Saney said.
“Now the city council ordered the fuel importers to establish fuel stations. There are some few fuel stations established, but not enough yet. When the establishment of these stations are done, we can order all the fuel vendors in the streets to leave the streets and join the fuel stations,” he added.
The drivers of the luxury cars are divided in the opinion related to the dangers that fuel in the streets can pose.
“I was driving in Mogadishu for the last 12 years, this time I am experiencing the increase of the luxury cars in the city and the thousands of women selling fuel in the streets, it has both positive and negative results,” said Driver Mohamed Ali Mohamed.
“It is good that these women are part of the economic recovery, but when things went wrong, they can cause destruction of properties and lives,” he added.
Adam Salad Nur, a patrol station worker, believes that the patrol business in Somalia is booming now, but the women selling fuel in the streets are getting the most customers.
“The fuel business is now part of the economic recovery, because it is time people think of luxury cars. We are forgetting the death and conflict; we are discussing development,” Nur said.
“As long as luxury cars increase the fuel demand increases, but it needs policy and regulations by the city council. Otherwise they not only pose dangers, but might also destroy the beauty of the city,” he stressed.
In the past year, fuel-resulted fire has destroyed hundreds of businesses in Mogadishu, among them restaurants, auto stores, spare part shops and food stores, but the demands still increase with limited safety measures.