Somaliland: The Ministry of Public Works and the Scandal Surrounding the Looting of Public Property

This article has been translated from the original Somali version which appeared in one of the leading Somali Language Daily, The Horn of Africa.

Part I
The Somaliland Minister Who Sells School Buildings and Other State Properties In The Black Market

How President Rayale gave his blessings to the wholesale liquidation of public properties and allows his Ministers to behave irresponsibly to the point of being unpatriotic.

The looting of public property associated with President Rayale and the Minister of Public Works, Saeed Sulub, is not confined to only one, two or three properties. However, every occupant of these old houses dating back to the colonial era is waiting for the time when the brokers will stop in front of their door, be given some money illegally and be told to vacate the house.

In addition if someone other than the Minister of Public Works and his cronies tries to acquire a share in the sale of the Public Property being put up for sale, Minister Saeed Sulub intervenes and unless his authorisation is sought nothing goes through for the other party.

This public property, the sale of which the government has illegally authorised to take place in the black market, is an important part and, indeed, the backbone of national sovereignty which cannot exist without it. We all know the scandal that engulfed the government of Somaliland at the beginning of this year when it embarked on the wholesale liquidation of public property without inviting potential buyers to tender a bid. Rather this property was sold on the black market. Everybody also knows the shameful episode relating to the fistfight involving Minister Saeed Sulub and the former Minister of Defence, due to a disagreement concerning a house belonging to the state. The former Minister of Defence, who lost his post, admitted that indeed their quarrel was due to a state-owned property but denied that they had exchanged blows. The public angrily demonstrated against the sale of public property when the group of brokers that organise the deals extended their tentacles to the schools where the children were supposed to learn. It is being forecast that the current government of Somaliland and the Ministry of Public Works will rue their illegal deals when election time comes and the public fairly pronounces the verdict by voting against them. It is pertinent to ask, “Who is responsible for the protection and maintenance of public property as far as the government is concerned if the Ministry of Public Works has become the sole agent for marketing the state houses? What can the parliament do if the former laws concerning the sale of public assets when it becomes necessary to do so have been sidestepped?” It is also pertinent to ask, “If it is decided to exchange cash for the public property, what is going to replace it since no-one knows where the cash ends up? And when the houses for sale are finally exhausted (since they are at present on the verge of being so), will the offices of the Ministries be safe from this clique that is vehemently engaged in the depletion of the nation’s economic and historical heritage?

These questions and others that were raised in our previous issue which dealt with the ultimate end of the money that is obtained from the sale of these houses will have to be answered by the Minister of Public Works, Saeed Sulub, and President Rayale who, as we pointed out earlier, are the only individuals who know where the money ends up.

While the Ministry of Public Works is frantically engaged in the sale of public property for which it is ultimately responsible, another part of its national duty is being left unattended. For example, hundreds of vehicles that were part of the government transport have overfilled the courtyards of every office and residence of the men who hold positions of responsibility in Rayale’s government.

These vehicles, some of which are new but need minor maintenance or spare parts, are being left to rot in these yards while the ministries concerned and the officials who were supposed to use them for the service of the nation do not show the slightest responsibility towards their maintenance. These officials usually get other new vehicles easily as these are bought from the taxes collected from the poor people as well as money that accrue from certain sectors of the public property. This enables them to dispense with the vehicles lying about their houses, offices and even garages in the city, which need only slight repairs to put them back to work.

In September last year, the newspaper, Geeska Afrika, published a study on the public transport which due to lack of maintenance is lying about in the courtyards of the Ministries and the houses of the officials and ministers of President Rayale’s Government. At that time the newspaper showed the pictures of these vehicles and their number plates while they lay unattended in the courtyard of the Ministry of Public Works which shirked its responsibility. At that time the reporters of the newspaper saw 54 vehicles of various makes and models such as Toyota Landcruiser, Toyota pick-up, Toyota Surf, Mark II, Granada, buses, Dyna pick-up trucks all of which were lying in the ministry’s courtyard. The Minister who now undertakes the sale of public property sidestepped his responsibility by ignoring the repair and maintenance of 19 such vehicles all carrying the GT number plate (showing that they are government-owned) and all lying in the yard of his Ministry.

A clear testimony to the irresponsibility of the Ministry of Public Works can be obtained from the fact that you can see many vehicles carrying the green number plate marked (GT) roaming the streets of the capital late at night or left by the driver in front of one of the tea shops where people chew Khat and later parked in private garages where a parking fee is paid. These practices are quite common whereas the proper procedure would have been the parking of these vehicles in the yards of their respective ministries right after the end of the working hours and the seizure by the police of any vehicle found to be on the road after these hours except those with special authorisation.

President Dahir Rayale Kahin is cuddling a scandal which he knows and for which he has assigned someone as his agent. That scandal is the wholesale liquidation and looting of public property illegally and in the black market. Likewise, the members of parliament, who have been elected by the people, are supposed to look deeply into this daylight robbery to which the national property is being subjected and to hold the individuals involved accountable.

Translated by Jamal Madar

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