GAROWE, March 23 – There are a few signs that indicate positive signs of societal freedoms and safety of citizens. Among them are the traffic police to maintain the rules of the road, the existence of an independent judiciary and free press. Go to any big city in any given country. See the existence, behavior and efficiency of traffic police. Pick up some local newspapers to get an idea of how free they are. Enquire about the independence of courts and read the sections and columns on crime and sentencing.
In Puntland, not to talk about other parts of Somalia, there is no single print newspaper, independent or otherwise. That tells you how an uninformed this society is. Where there is no press at all, expect no human progress and no monitoring of abuses of any kind including gross violations of human rights. You say tribalism is bad, but there is no alternative Avenue here to clannism either to seek justice or use it as a tool to gain undeserved priviledges. Society living under such situations, rumor-mongering, gossips, misinformation and wild speculations thrive and feed the mind of the general public. Doom and despair captivate the citizens. Nobody knows the truth anymore. There is a sense of general paralysis in the country. People just talk about all kinds of topics as wondering and confused minds. This is real in Puntland – no exaggeration.
But, let me go back to the issue of traffic police in Puntland. You rarely see traffic police here, and when you encounter a few of the officers, they are either begging for a lunch or extorting money from drivers on the road without driving license. There are no rules of the road whatsoever and everybody drives to any empty space he or she can squeeze the vehicle into left and right. One of the biggest traffic problems is drivers habitually stop vehicles in the middle of the road chatting, across the open car windows with driver-colleagues doing the same illegal car operation, while dozens of other drivers are jammed behind them with the horns blasting mad. Fortunately, road rage is moderately controlled by time-tested people’s patience.
Under these driving conditions, traffic police is nowhere to be seen. This situation exemplifies chaos, anarchy and total absence
of government, local, state or central.
Can something be done about this unspoken breakdown of law and order? Whose responsibility is it?