Garowe (PPM) — Built during the second half of 1980s, Garowe-Bosaso Road plays an underappreciated role in the post-1991 reconstruction of Mudug, Nugaal and Bari regions. The road has been gradually showing  signs of wear and tear. It is a landmark infrastructure project that the military regime implemented with timely assistance from the former Italian Aid Fund (FAI).

Since last year the incidence of accidents and minor landslides from seasonal rains that affect travel on the road has increased. The most worrying aspect of this situation is reflected in the more than 40% increase of the travel time between Bosaso and Garowe. When the road was in good condition it took a truck driver roughly 5 hours to deliver goods from Bosaso to Garowe, the adminstrative capital of Puntland State. Now it takes between 8-10 hours.

A deep pothole in the Bosaso-Garowe road

The travel time increases ever more when an accident in the road involving haulage trucks severely affects travel to and from Bosaso. Puntland does not have cranes that can remove overturned trucks in the main road.

Trucks avoiding the treacherous Bosaso-Garowe road

The economic costs of poor  roads result in inflationary pressures in Puntland.  Truck drivers that once charged US$ 1000 to deliver goods to Buhodle now charge between US$ 1,500-1,800 to make up for extra hours to travel on unpaved and rocky roads. “I have to service my lorry once we unload goods. The mechanic charges me between US$ 300-500 ” said the owner of a lorry in Lasanod.  Puntland Highways Authority tasked with renovating roads remains underfunded. The misappropriation of funds for the renovation of Garowe-Galka’yo road in 2016 dented confidence donor organisations have in the ability of Puntland State to run small-scale infrastructure projects.

A Backbreaking journey

A gully formed in a part of the road between Sunni-jiif and Garowe

Spring rains contribute to the deterioration of Bosaso-Garowe Road condition. When a minibus carrying passengers reaches a gully  in a part of the road near Sunni-jiif, passengers have to disembark and carry their belongings on their backs to wade through the stagnant rain water.  People fleeing the inclement summer weather of Bosaso to spend their xagaa-bax (summer holiday ) in inland districts face longer travel times and riskier journeys. Minibuses travel on sandy and rocky terrains by the main road. Passengers walk by the minibus or the truck for one or two kilometres to return to the main road to resume the backbreaking journey. “The 2019 summer was exceptionally tiresome. Families travel in minibuses or small cars that cannot travel when so many potholes and gullies necessitate longer walks as a part of the journey. Families with children or elders or sick people had to stay in Bosaso to brave the hot summer weather there” says a Bosaso-based business man.

Pile-up of mini-buses and cars on Bosaso-Garowe road

People who regularly travel on Bosaso-Garowe Road complain of the rate at which potholes get formed in the main road in addition to the threat of seasonal torrential rains that further weaken the foundations of the road.                      

The new Puntland administration that took office in January 2019 had not asked for assistance from the Federal Ministry of Housing and Public Works. With assistance from Qatar the Somali Federal Government last year launched projects to renovate Mogadishu-Bal’ad Road and Mogadishu-Agoye Road. “Poor relations between Garowe and Mogadishu should not deprive us of our right to seek renovation assistance from the Federal Government.

The pre-1991 Somali Government implemented Bosaso-Garowe Road and Bosaso Port” said  Dahir Ahmed, a teacher in Bosaso.  People in Puntland are waking up to economic costs resulting from the poor condition of Bosaso-Garowe Road.

© Puntland Post Monthly,  2020