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Weheliye, who has been living in Mogadishu for the last 20 years, is a sole proprietor of a business enterprise in Bakara Market. During those 20 years, he has seen the impact of the harsh economic situation on different groups - from warlords to the al-Shabaab as well as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
Mr. Weheliye, thank you for granting us an exclusive interview. How has business in Mogadishu been for the last 20 years?
We have been carrying out our business as usual despite the fact that there's no stable or effective government in Somalia, especially in Mogadishu. As traders, we have experienced diverse and critical security challenges.
Moreover, there has been no government market controls to ensure fair market competition, but we have managed to survive under all these circumstances.
How was the market when Mogadishu was under the authority of warlords?
During those days, it was worse compared to the time of Union of Islamic courts (UIC) in the sense that we were exposed to a lot of heavy taxation, of which we never knew how it was being spent. Moreover, there was segregation when it came to taxation charges. For example, the minorities were imposed heavy charges.
What about during the time of the Islamic Courts?
There was negligible security crisis in Mogadishu despite the heavy taxes imposed on us. However, we were able to make huge profits under the stable atmosphere provided by the UIC.
Can you comment on the nature of the market today since it is under the control of the government?
The situation has deteriorated because there is no peace in Mogadishu due to the constant skirmishes, heavy fighting, explosions and suicide attacks.
What do you think has caused the inflation?
That's a good question. It's a combination of many factors. The major one being insecurity in the city that has scared away foreign investors. As a result, business premises have been consolidated into one building or in a specific area under one management. This has led to consumer exploitation, whose living expenses have become extremely high.
How can the inflation be addressed to ensure there is smooth flow of goods and services in the market?
I think this can only be achieved when lasting peace is maintained in Somalia and more so in Mogadishu in such a way that potential investors might have a way of investing in key business opportunities.
Give us brief analysis about the cost of basic commodities in Mogadishu's Bakara market currently?
One bag of sugar costs $42 which is equivalent to 1 million and 50 thousand Somali shillings while a bag of flour costs $47 which corresponds to 1 million and 175 thousand Somali shillings. There are so many people who cannot afford their daily needs.
What measures do you think should be taken to curb the escalating prices of basic commodities day after day?
I can say the only solution is if the security is beefed up by both the locals and the authorities concerned to enhance effective movement of goods and people.
Thank you for enlightening us.
Thank you and I appreciate Somalia Report.