By: Yusuf M Hasan
The administrative capital of the Ethiopian regional Zone five , Jigjiga, is a town bustling with various activities on the drive towards fulfilling the federal constitutional dictates of Renaissance.
The Ethiopian renaissance that ensued with the overthrow of the Dergue regime by former rebels v and current ruling party of TPLF has seen a massive jump from a hungry country to one whose annual GDP is over 10%.
While multimillion projects have been the song of the day in the country little mentioned in the regional Renaissance of the zone five administration with a catch-up with the rest game that is spearheaded by the 1900th mad mullah, Mohamed Abdullah Hasan, a local boy who tormented the British rule in Somaliland, a former protectorate
The Mad Mullah monument in the heart of Jigjiga has him a-top a horse with his sword wielding right hand pointing forward thus symbolifiying the renaissance of the zone five Somali administrative region that covers a large swath of Ethiopian land inhabited by Somali speakers.
While the Mad Mullah’s monument is just that, a monument to a former prominent local boy whom some view as a hero and a villain by others the real power fronting the new Jigjiga is apart from the people themselves and both regional and federal government is the Bajaj, a three wheeled motorcycle used as the transport mode of choice by many.
Though there are the regular buses and taxis just like in any other city elsewhere, for one to move with ease in Jigjiga nothing beasts the Bajaj which is not only cheap and fast but a life savior for the myriad that operate them having turned into one of the best ways of job creation and income generation.
Having ridden from here and there on one Bajaj or another as part of town discovery , at a charge of 10 birrs in company of others , I enticed rider Guleid (not real name) to show me the sites of the town and the good rider amazed by my want of sightseeing Jigjiga agreed at a charge of 100 birrs which is equivalent to $5.
According to Guleid an average Bajaj operator has an average 1000 birr ($45) earning and after deduction of various expenditures like wage, fuel, tax and maintenances when necessary the take home is around birr 700 of which in his case he saves 500 thus a monthly in the bank 15,000 birr.
“With 15,000 birr in my account my family feeding regularly am better off than many working regular hours” say Guleid
Despite the rapid development in Jigjiga it is unfortunate that the eight storey building which is the tallest in the tow is yet to see completion as the engineer is reportedly in custody owing to face charges on why his construction fully paid by owner is slanted thus unusable!
For a minute and before we forget development the most puzzling thing in the town is lack of any visible garbage be it plastic bags or other. This I can only attest for within city centre and not within residential areas but as it is this is a big lesson somalilanders and their local government authorities need to learn from the zone five.
Though nobody in Jigjiga could verify my thinking that the absence of garbage is in relation to fears of arrest it is obvious the la has something to do with the cleanliness that I hope and will soon discover is the norm in all of Ethiopia.
All in all Jigjiga with its symbolic Mad Mullah monument , hundreds of Bajaj’s plying entire town routes and the myriad of security checks at entrances to cafes, hotels, pubs and randomly at the streets is a city to grab one and hold him/her forever.