I woke up in a ghost city this morning. The streets were deserted. I looked around and every direction I turned was empty. The city’s major transport services are halted again. The order came in mid-last night when the special city police carried out a man-hun search for group gangs who have been disturbing the security of the city recently. reports indicate that Hundreds of youngsters were detained in Jigjiga police station. more others were car-trucked to Godey, Somali state’s second largest city which is 400 miles east of Jigjiga.
Group gang fights have been on the rise since 2019 onward where violent youngsters split into groups fighting each other with dangerous objects like machetes and sharp knives. Gang rape, stabbing, Robbery and all sorts insecurities became the dominant order of the days forcing police to conduct a city-wide search for gang groups. Last year, Jigjiga violent-crimes protection unit arbafatana have indiscriminately deported hundreds of kids to a far prison in godey accusing them of committing various anti-social crimes. Many families have been separated from their kids and currently have no idea where their children were taken bringing the child rights movement campaign into a light. Police insist that detaining groups mean nothing more than rehabilitation.
Last month two girls were gang-raped and one of them was later killed by TukTuk drivers. Another Ethiopian girl was raped by a group linked to immigrants. The latest city crimes were highly alarming. The public had expressed a growing concern in certain nowhere to-go scenes linked to gangs whereabouts. The police have been dealing with an excessive amount of crimes in major city streets. Somali state chief security officer made remarks on their operations calling the youth detentions an effort to reduce and end Gang crimes in Jigjiga.
Hundreds of Jigjigaawis filled the streets of the city waiting for buses but few TukTuks could be spotted causing major delays to people’s work and businesses. You can also read my previous article on Jigjiga transport crises. More communiters are currently stranded at major TukTuk stops in Jigjiga wondering where Bajajs are gone. It’s yet unsure how long we will have to wait until the transport is back but this time around, it seems that they will be kept in police stations for a while. TukTuk is the largest mini transport service working in and around Jigjiga. They are easy to be found everywhere and more quicker than buses which don’t often operate in many places. There are few Public buses working in the city but these buses still charge travellers the same amount of money that should be ridden on Force TukTuks. Jigjiga transport fares have increased by 45% following Covid-19 restrictions. In May, the number of people allowed to take on—six people Force TukTuk was reduced to two persons in the back and one at the front seat where they used to be six in the past.
It’s yet unclear how long it will take the public to wait until TukTuks drivers are released to the streets and have people’s schedules running again but we only hope the government understands the very real circumstances surrounding people’s transport nightmare. Until I get back to you with another interesting fact on my Jigjiga, I will walk to my one mile home on foot.