One man’s mission, one city’s dramatic change

MOGADISHU – For Brig Gen. Hassan Mohamed Hussein, the former Mogadishu mayor, the idea of fixing and running a major city devastated by decades of conflict wasn’t an easy job that one could take easy to take, but rather one which against all odds required a determination and persistence to start picking up pieces scattered by civil strife.

Marked by personal and security challenges posed by the Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabab group, Mr. Hussein’s ambitious goal mesmerized by the possibilities of building ambitious projects in the cash-strapped horn of Africa nation to recover the glory of Its Past was an uphill task which he had to give a ride so carefully.

As its, Mogadishu started picking up, little by little thanks to a strategic urban planning by Mr. Mohamed and his entourages who despite doubts by many remained steadfast in striving to rebuild the city he was had grown up as a child before he went to Sudan for studies.

Pushing for his strategic plan to transform the city showed early success, having employed a grand urbanization framework viewed by many as realistic that could help the seaside city through the dark days of the past to make a quick turnaround.

HIS INITIAL PRIORITIES 

  • Reorganizing the local government and districts’ admins to eliminate the old clan-based and warlords-dominated administrational criteria
  • Dealing with security challenges, a reason Somali president appointed him for the mayoral position, owing to his past work as the military court’s chief
  • Rebuilding the city’s music band that ceased to operate in 1990s in a bid to convey nationalism public awareness through music
  • Rebuilding the local government’s headquarter
  • Solving real estate disputes

HIS KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Reorganized the local government and districts’ admins and eliminated the old clan-based and warlords-dominated administrational criteria, by replacing former commissioners with fresh and young university graduates.
  • Rebuilt the city’s music band that resumed its operations since 1990s, earning him positive appraisal among the public. The band helped in spreading public nationalism awareness through their music
  • Rebuilt the local government’s headquarter (Offcio-Governo) without outside help by using a $2 million funds donated by businessmen and his administration through an initiative dubbed ‘build your own country’. The headquarter also serves as the office of the city’s mayor
  • Improved security, and moved his office into the north of the city which has long been considered to be militants’ strongholds.
  • Returned dispossessed real estate properties to their original owners

Despite challenges including limited financial capacity, his administration has been credited with engineering and delivering some of its goals, a development many believe made him a remarkable mark in Mogadishu.

Perhaps, better symbols of Mogadishu’s transformation are the street lights, reconstruction of key roads, public schools and a taxation system that marked the beginning of the city’s rebirth to heal wounds from the decades-old conflict that brought hope among the city’s residents.

By Ali Mumin

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