12 May 2013

Somalia: Truck Drivers in Southern Somalia Protest Illegal Roadblocks for Second Day

Afgoye — Truck drivers protested for the second day in the Lower Shabelle region after alleging that Somali government forces embezzle cash by setting up illegal roadblocks in the area, Garowe Online reports.

The protests expanded on Sunday as truck drivers setup their own roadblocks in the Lower Shabelle region demanding that the roadblocks be lifted from the busy main highway connecting Mogadishu to the rich farmland regions and towns.

The spokesman for the protesting truck drivers Mohamed Abdi, who spoke to BBC Somali, stated that the demonstrators met with AMISOM forces who mediated the situation.

"The AMISOM forces requested kindly that we lift the roadblocks that we [truck drivers] setup in the area and assured us [truck drivers] that are requests would be met," said Mr. Abdi on Sunday.

Mr. Abdi stated that government forces in the area embezzle, threaten and abuse truck drivers who use the busy highway regularly.

"The money stolen from us [truck drivers] and the threats made to us by Somali government forces occur on all roads or highways in the Lower Shabelle region," said Mr. Abdi.

According to Mr. Abdi, the money embezzled from truck drivers carrying fruit, vegetables and food goods to and from Mogadishu reaches more than 1 million Somali Shillings equivalent to 50 US dollars.

Authorities in the Lower Shabelle region pledged they would tackle the problem of illegal roadblocks but didn't state their steps.

Last year, over 60 roadblocks were carefully lifted from the war-torn city of Mogadishu by Somali Federal Government (SFG) authorities.

The Lower and Middle Shabelle region is an area with rich farmland and was a former profitable stronghold of Al Shabaab.


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