19 May 2007 04:14

SOMALIA WATCH

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Column
  • Title: [SW Column] (Aideed) A potential peace dividend for Puntland- a railway!
  • From:[]
  • Date :[3 April 2000]

 

One of the arguments that suggests the Djibouti peace initiative may succeed is that it is backed by international community. With what? Obviously not force, but rather economy. Here is an idea on how putting some economic pressure or perhaps coercion may work in some reluctant parties such as Puntland. How is that? Well, the mini-state of Puntland is full of educated Somalis who have fled the South. Who have energy and experience to turn a desolate area into something. There is a large cohort of Puntlanders outside of Somalia who are dying to reconnect with the old country. They may not have much money now, but if history has its ways, they will soon. I believe the puntlanders, including their leadership, would response to economic promise for their support of the Djibouti peace initiative. Am I talking about aid/gifts… certainly not. That would certainly kill what ever little creativity left with the people of Puntland. So, keep the unconditional aid out. But what then? How about trans-puntland/trans-Ogaden rail system. A railway in Somalia? Am I dreaming? kind of, but hear me out. Bossasso has proven great port (granted it needs some work), Ethiopia has proven in need of more ports or access to the ocean. The people of the Ogaden have been long ignored by all things including development for so long. The region of SOOL is torn between Puntland and Somaliland, mainly because its people can not decide which port is cheaper for their goats and camel on their way to the Arabian restaurants. Furthermore, Gadaffi has been itching to find a way to support unity in African world, and lastly, the Ethiopian business men/women are about to move to the second level of civilization… the need for coastal properties and vacation rentals. Well, here is the solution for all of those needs. A railway system from Bossasso to Dirir Dawe. It goes through Laascanood and the heart of Haud, through parts of Ogadenia and finally into the heart of the Ethiopian community. How will this help? Well, Bossasso will no longer be an out-post of hope and mechantilism. Laascanood will cease to be a place where only presidents die. It will acquire a new identity and respect. The people of Sool will have easier decision to make regarding whose land they should call theirs. Small towns will come out of the great Ogaden desert that will serve as the oasis for future development in the resources of this great region. The Ethiopians will be in position to bargain for cheaper port (Berbera vs Bossasso vs Djibouti vs Kismayo vs Eriteria). Furthermore, the emerging middle class in Ethiopia will fine wonderful sea-side rentals on the coast of Puntland. Ethiopia and Somalia would have something in common (a mutual investment to safeguard) thus, bringing two of the oldest enemies in African closer together. Sounds all good and dreamy does not it? but how? Where is the money coming from? Not easy one to answer, but here is a thought. An investment. By who? By the people of Puntland and the business people of Ethiopia. How does the world community come into this. Well, the railway venture will be mainly the investment of the people of Puntland, the government of Puntland will make the investment safe and subsidize the cost of building through…perhaps tax shelters and investment promotions. The international community will subside the investment through cheap loans and insurance to the investors. It is a win-win situation for all involved not to mention those who will be employed by this project. The government of Puntland should consider this idea in its long-term strategy for nation building. The Djibouti peace packers should consider this idea in its bit to attract level-headed people in Puntland. The Puntlanders in the Diaspora should consider this as an alternative to the IRA or 401ks. This is just an idea. Aidid.


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