(ERGO) – Somaliland farmer Osman Yussuf Hassan has given up working on his family’s 10-hectare farm in Hareed village because the state of the road prevented him from getting his produce to market whilst still fresh.
Over the past four harvests, he estimates losing $2,000 as his tomatoes, salad and papaws spoiled due to delays and broken down vehicles on the 30 kilometres between his village and Erigabo, the main town in this part of Sanag region.
“The road is impassable, and vehicles find it hard to travel. It desperately needs renovation. Farm produce like tomatoes used to rot in the field while we searched for a vehicle to transport them to the market,” Osman said.
There are few vehicles operating on the Dowga Tabca road connecting Erigabo to the coast, passing through a string of villages to the north. It takes six hours to travel the full 80 kilometres that should take an hour and a half. Fares have doubled causing prices of food and other goods to skyrocket locally.
Osman, whose family of eight children lived off the farm earnings, is now struggling on his 900,000 Somaliland shillings ($100) a month wages working as a watchman at a store in Erigabo town.
“The children are living a tough life now. We are unable to afford the necessities of life,” he said.
In the coastal town of Maydh, Salah Said Mohamoud fell ill in 2020, but had to wait for his family to raise the $400 needed to rent a vehicle to take him to a hospital in Erigabo. Maydh itself has no health centre.
“I could have died whilst my family raised the money to rent the vehicle. On the way to the hospital, there was a time when they thought that I actually had died. When I finally reached the hospital, I was diagnosed with TB,” he recalled.
Salah, a fisherman, cast aside his nets as his daily catch used to rot on the road before he could reach Erigabo town to sell the fish. He now mines gold from the mountains on the outskirts of Maydh to provide for his family of nine children.
He buys food from Erigabo once in a while, when he can get a vehicle that charges him $21 for the transport of 75kgs of the dry food supplies he buys for the family.
“The poor state of the road has affected every sector. The goods are getting spoilt on the road. You always worry whether your order will come safely, or if the vehicle might fall off the cliff with it,” he said.
A volunteer youth group in the area collected money from the diaspora and local businesses to renovate a 30 kilometre section of the road in 2020. The group’s chairman, Jama Jibril, told Radio Ergo that the money they collected was just enough to make the repairs, although rocks falling from the mountains along the roadside have blocked the road again and cause further damage.
The Dowga Tabca road was built in 1948 by the colonial British army and has not been properly repaired since the fall of Somalia’s central government. Jama said he hopes the government of Somaliland might fix the road once they complete the construction of Maydh port, which is now in progress.