Community initiative restores bridge and hope for traders

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(ERGO) – Residents of Hawadley village in the north east of Bal’ad town have been able to go to other farm villages for the last three weeks after they put hands together to rebuild a bridge which collapsed, cutting off high transport costs and easing business.

Asha Osman, who lives in Hawadley village is now able to take the products of her farm which located on the other side of the river to the market easily for the first time since the bridge has been reconstructed.

“Initially, the products used to be transported by women who wade through the river and I used to pay them,” she commended.

She also noted that she had been paying 0.5 dollars every day to boat riders to reach her farm on the other side of the river.

The community teamed up to contribute funds towards the reconstruction of the 45-year-old bridge which has not been renovated since the fall of Somali central government in 1990.

The self-organised villagers raised 30,000 dollars before starting the construction of the bridge without any assistance from the government and aid agencies.

According to the chairman, each farmer contributed 10 dollars while each vehicle operating in the area paid 20 dollars.

Sheikh says the bridge over River Shabelle is a critical piece of infrastructure, which links 11 farming villages with Hawadley.

Sheikh pointed out the bridge collapsed in 2016 leading 20 animals to perish while sending five vehicles plunging into the river but the victims were rescued.

Prior to the construction of the bridge, businesses in the areas had been disrupted as the vehicles transporting goods were unable to reach Hawadley village as usual.

Mustaf Ayrtow Ali, a trader in the village says they opted to transport their goods from Mogadishu via Jowhar town, 70km away which was very costly.

“We used to offload goods from vehicles on the river bank where porters load them into a boat….. Transporting one bag of rice using vehicles cost 2 dollars while using boats coast 1.5 dollars but now things have returned to normal,” he explains.

During that period, Mustafa states that the traders in the village counted losses as some goods soaked during the transportation.

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