Feature: Somali city reeling from inflation amid al-Shabab-imposed blockade-Xinhua

Feature: Somali city reeling from inflation amid al-Shabab-imposed blockade

Source: Xinhua| 2023-07-21 00:41:15|Editor: huaxia

MOGADISHU, July 20 (Xinhua) -- For close to two weeks, Baidoa, the interim administrative headquarters of Somalia's South-West State, has been under siege amid a blockade of major transport arteries by al-Shabab militants.

The al-Qaida-linked armed group blocked the only major road plying the Somali capital of Mogadishu to Baidoa and the situation has caused a shortage of food and other essential supplies.

The incident occurred after the detention of local teachers by the regional government after they met al-Shabab militants outside Baidoa as the state accused the tutors, including university deans and school principals of being sympathetic to the terrorist network's ideology.

In a span of one week, the cost of living has increased, exerting new pressure on ordinary citizens.

Hawa Yarow Issack, a mother of six who runs a small roadside tea shop in Baidoa, urged the local authorities to come up with a lasting solution to the dire economic situation. "A person like me cannot endure this dire situation for long. Our small-scale businesses rely on road supplies from Mogadishu and if the road blockade continues, our daily bread will evaporate. The government needs to act soon," Yarow said.

Baidoa, a city located in the South-West State of Somalia, hosts an estimated population of 600,000 internally displaced persons, and the al-Shabab set up a blockade, cutting off transport to and from Baidoa, disrupting humanitarian services, threatening the livelihoods of vulnerable civilians.

Residents said the blockade has paralyzed transport and businesses, resulting in price hikes.

Hussein Abdow Alio, another trader who owns a gasoline station in the heart of Baidoa, decried the possibility of triple inflation in the coming weeks unless there is urgent intervention from the government. "I used to sell one liter of gasoline for about 1 U.S. dollar, but now it has reached 2.5 dollars per liter. The three-wheel motorcycle riders and taxi drivers are very worried about the hike in fuel price," Abdow told Xinhua in an interview Thursday.

Through a text message to its customers, Baidoa Electric Company said there will be a change to the 24-hour power supply system in Baidoa caused by insufficient fuel. "To all Baidoa Electric Company customers, we would like to notify changes made to the supplying hours of electricity to our consumers. Regarding the shortage of fuel, the operating hours will be from 8 a.m. in the morning to 3 p.m. in the afternoon and also from 6 p.m. evening to 1 a.m., Somali local time, effectively from July 19," the power utility said.

Somali Minister of Livestock, Forestry and Range Hassan Hussein Mohamed said at a recent media briefing that the war against al-Shabab militants will be intensified in the wider Baidoa region. "There is an ongoing all-out war against al-Shabab. The people of Baidoa should get ready to play their part in eradicating the militants," the official said.

The militants have also blocked a major road in Hudur, the provincial headquarters of the Bakool region in southwestern Somalia, which they have controlled for a decade and where humanitarian aid for vulnerable civilians is always airlifted.