Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 8th 2013 Contents B7
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A woman walks along a pathway in the Royal Botanical Gardens, Port-of-Spain where the petrea
volubilis, commonly known as Bluebird Vine, Queen's Wreath, Purple Wreath or Sandpaper Vine shows
its rich violet-coloured flowers that are a beautiful sight to see. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
At the thriving seaport in Soma-
lia s capital, Mogadishu, the aroma
of lemons drowns out the smell of
ship s fuel.
The dried fruits, packed into hun-
dreds of sacks, are being offloaded
from trucks and hoisted by crane
on to a cargo vessel for export.
The ship will eventually make its
way to the Arab Gulf states.
"The pay is poor, but at least
there s more work now," says a porter
by the name of Alasow, taking a
breather from the back-breaking
work. Decades of war and piracy
almost destroyed this once-powerful
But in recent months, better secu-
rity has seen the number of ships
docking here more than double.
For Somalia, this port represents
more than just a return to business.
It could be the engine of the coun-
try s economic resurrection.
Exports consist largely of fruit
and livestock. Imports are mostly
spaghetti and cement, the latter for
use in Mogadishu s current building
All of this economic activity is
good news for Somalis, from the
porters on the quayside to the lorry
drivers; from the wholesalers and
importers right down to the farmers
who grow the lemons.
All of them are making a living.
But even the people who work
here say corruption is rife.
"For 20 years we had no govern-
ment," says Noor Osman, another
porter---caked in dust from a morn-
ing offloading sacks of cement.
"Now the management and the
businessmen are eating into our
wages. "If the president is a proper
Muslim, let him do something about
Scrutinising the books
Osman s troubles with the payroll
are symptomatic of a wider problem.
Somalia does not have an income
tax. Most of the federal budget
comes from foreign aid.
What little revenue the govern-
ment does collect comes from here,
the port, and to a lesser extent, the
airport. Unfortunately, very little
revenue is making its way into gov-
Abdirazak Fartaag, former head
of the Somali Public Finance Unit,
says 75-80 per cent of the funds
that are being generated by the port
are unaccounted for.
"Nobody really knows where that
money goes," he says.
In 2010 Fartaag was asked to
investigate the financial management
practices of what was then Somalia s
Transitional Federal government.
What he found was an almost
total lack of accountability.
When he presented his findings
the following year he was sacked.
He says he has no reason to
believe things have changed since
then. "The international community
have a say in this regard.
"To say, You know what, since
we re paying for this, we need to
understand (what you re doing with)
the money you generate from the
port and the airport and any other
Earlier this year the UK proposed
setting up a mechanism whereby
Britain and other donors would get
to scrutinise the books.
It was to be called the Joint Finan-
cial Management Board.
Somalia s new government reject-
ed the proposal on the grounds that
it would infringe national sover-
'Stop being timid'
Fartaag says the countries that
fund the Somali government should
demand more accountability.
"Unless the international com-
munity demands that, nothing is
going to change in my view," he
"The Americans and the British
should stop being timid about this
whole process, they should be a bit
The port s manager, Abdullahi
Ali Noor, denied any suggestions
"All the revenues generated here
in Mogadishu port, directly will go
to the central bank of Somalia," he
He said the money was already
being used to pay civil servants
salaries and other government
Ali Noor said that revenue cur-
rently amounted to around
US$3.5m (£2.2m) per month---not
a large sum with which to run any
country, let alone one struggling
with the legacy of two decades of
The trucks laden with goods
rumbling in and out of Mogadishu s
port are emblematic of a city rising
up from the rubble of war.
Foreign aid is paying for former
militiamen to join a fledgling
national security force.
Some of them are in evidence at
the entrance to the port: Policemen
in blue uniforms alongside soldiers
in camouflage fatigues.
But old clan loyalties are still
The gun is often still the arbiter
here, and he who controls the gates
also controls the revenue flows.
Somalia's fight to harness
the power of Mogadishu port
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