Public transportation comes to a halt after increase of illegal checkpoints in Lower Shabelle
Mogadishu (Harar24) – Hundreds of people gathered in the outskirt of Mogadishu today to protest against the numerous illegal checkpoints that have been springing up in the Lower Shabelle province of Somalia.
Businessmen, merchants, students and residents headed to areas such as Afgoy were left stuck in Mogadishu today as no means of transportation were available. Minibus drivers said that they wouldn’t drive until this issue was resolved. “Enough is enough. This has been going on for far too long” said one bus driver who spoke to Harar24. “It’s ridiculous; it has become unsafe for anybody. They loot and plunder everything at those checkpoints. I come back empty handed at the end of the day, I’m not making any income, so why should I continue driving and risk losing my life?” he further commented.
Many areas under government control have been plagued by illegal checkpoints set up armed militias who extort, rob and even rape. What’s however more intriguing is that many eyewitnesses testify to the fact that a lot of these armed men are seen wearing the Somali military uniform.
One local resident who preferred to remain anonymous claims that newly recruited soldiers who were sent to the area to remove the illegal checkpoints have joined in the robbing at the checkpoints. “They were sent here to crush these crimes and remove these illegal checkpoints, instead we have seen a lot of them standing at those very same checkpoints they were sent to remove” he claimed.
This comes at a time where crimes such as robberies, abduction and killings by men in military uniform have been increasing, such as the recent abduction of two Kenyan nationals and the killing of three Syrians, both at legitimate checkpoints.