|Join Our Mailing List|
It is midnight and Somalia’s biggest Market, Bakara, glitters with lights from dotted lamps installed just a few days ago in an effort to restore the market’s vitality, following years of bloodshed and ruins.
Before al-Shabaab militants were driven out, the only lights visible at night time were from the explosions of gunfire and African Union tanks in Mogadishu, while the most intense sound was that of Katyusha rockets whooshing over the dilapidated houses, but life has been slowly returning back to the wounded market since then.
Banadir's regional administration has been spearheading an ambitious drive to light up the dark capital, which has not seen proper electricity since the fall of the military regime led by the late Mohamed Said Barre in January 1991.
“To improve security and the beauty of the city, we requested electricity companies to put lamps on the posts so that the city looks more beautiful,” Mohamed Abdulahi Arig, Banadir's regional administrator told Somalia Report.
“The businesses have a social responsibility to help in the revival of the city.”
“This would also scare those who want to plant roadside bombs at night,” he added.
Abdinur Ali, a businessman who runs an electronics shop in Bakara market told Somalia Report that the local administration had ordered all businesses to put up new security lamps on the front of the stores and not to switch them off until dawn.
"This is important not only for security in general and to reduce acts of burglary and theft," he said.
Another businessman, Ali Nure, says that this is a good step in the right direction .
"It gives you some confidence when you want walk at night time," Mr. Nure points out.
However, not all businesses welcome the orders from the local authorities, on the grounds that they increase electricity bills.
"The government has to invest in the energy sector and serve the people," a restaurant owner told Somalia Report.
"If I leave my lights on every night that means at least five extra dollars on me. It is a heavy burden.”
Abdinur, the manager of Somali Electric, the biggest electricity provider in Mogadishu, said they will increase lighting on the streets of Mogadishu.
"There is a responsibility upon us to contribute to the lives of the people," he said.
"We are voluntarily putting more lamps on the streets."
Light is also gradually returning to other main roads of the capital like Maka Al-Mukarama, an arterial road that links the airport to the presidential palace. But things are not as rosy as they look. Night movement is still impossible for many residents of Mogadishu.
Hundreds of Somalis have lived here in the last 20 years without seeing a single electric lamp or an electric socket in their homes.
Over the last five years, Bakara was renowned as the scene of extra-judicial killings and other acts of impunity, as African Union forces and al-Shabaab militants continually exchanged fire, leaving great loss and tragedy in their wake. But ever since al-Shabaab was driven out it seems Bakara market is counting fewer human casualties.