As House of Representatives reprieve private water distributors’ payment of new taxes
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HASRGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The two chambers of the Somaliland parliament, Guurti and House of representatives have indicated concern on the water shortage that engulfed Hargeisa city.
Accordingly Guurti the upper chamber of parliament has constituted a committee to probe the riots that ensued in the capital city as a result of water shortages while the House of representatives has informed that private water distributors nationwide are excused from payment of the new road taxes.
These developments follows demonstrations by city residents protesting water shortages occasioned by the cessation of service provision by private water distributors who downed their tankers in protest against introduction of new road taxes.
The demonstrators who turned riotous upon confrontation by the crack police formations of Rapid Reaction Unit-RRU and the Special Protection Unit- SPU saw one demonstrator shot to death while a number of others are still nursing injuries.
While announcing the 14 members water riots probe committee the chairman of Guurti Elder Suleiman Mahmud Aden informed that it, committee, is expected to investigate circumstances that mitigated the strike by water tank owners, water shortages demonstrations and subsequent events.
“To undertake the probe the committee of elders shall not only grill but obtain relevant reports from the minister of interior, minister of finance, Hargeisa mayor, Private Water Distributors Cooperative officials, the Manager of the Hargeisa water agency and presidency minister from whose docket the new and controversial road taxes emanated from before approval by parliament.
On the other hand the house of representative which is the lower chamber of the Somaliland legislative assembly announced that it has put a stay of execution on payment of new road taxes by private water distributors nationwide.
The house announcement and new tax payment reprieve for the distributors was made by the House finance committee that attributed the decision to recent work stoppages by water tank owners and subsequent water shortages in the city that ended in death and injury to residents.
“After careful deliberations on the circumstances that led to water shortage riots in Hargeisa it has been decided that the private water distributors are reprieved from payment of new road taxes imposed recently” said MP Abdiqadir Askar Hasan who doubles as the finance committee secretary and third deputy house speaker.
The water shortage confrontations that turned ugly ended after the interior minister Ali Mohamed Waran’ade and the striking distributors agreed on a back to work arrangement which entails discussions by representatives from the distributors, ministry of interior and finance ministry.
With minister Waran’ade giving a personal pledge that the water tankers shall not pay the new taxes until the three pronged discussions are complete the city is back to normal and the decision by the two chambers of parliament is also of importance as it goes a long way in assuaging fears by city residents and truck owners.