I’ve had the opportunity to visit Jigjiga recently and thought I would share with you all, what I saw there, with the emphasis being on what I saw not what I heard or was told. Before I do that, I would like to state on record that my visit was a personal one, and entirely self-financed. I thought making this disclosure was important, lest I’m accused of having a clouded judgement.
My first contact with the city was landing at the new Wiilwaal Airport. You can’t help but feel proud to have such a facility at home. Granted it is not the best that many of us have come across, but it surely is a significant upgrade from what used to be Jigjiga’s airport.
The last time I visited Jigjiga, I travelled to Dhagaxbuur. That trip is etched in my memory for its perilousness. We reached Dhagaxbuur eight hours after departing from Jigjiga. The stretch of road between Jigjiga and Qabribayax was the only portion that was paved. Now the entire road is well paved and that trip today takes a little over two hours or so. I believe anyone would consider this a positive development. During my brief stay in Jijiga, I visited the campus of Jigjiga University and witnessed thousands of students attending classes and hundreds of support staff employed there. What probably was, not too long ago, a prime real estate for a certain nocturnal carnivore that Jijiga is known for, is now a functioning centre of higher learning, imparting higher education to our students while at the same time gainfully employing hundreds of our people. To plan and execute a project of that size in a such short amount of time is definitely a testament to the skills and the efficiency of the administration in charge.
I’ve seen quite a few privately owned businesses established as well. These businesses have led to the creation of jobs, allowing individuals that may otherwise have been unemployed, to earn for themselves. I had an opportunity to see the newly built referral hospital in Jijiga. This 350 bed in patient hospital with it’s attached outpatient clinic has the capacity to treat up to 5 million patients. I would need a lot more space to list all the things I saw in Jigjiga, but you get the point. One could construe these as disparate individual projects, but I view them as part of a bigger, calculated effort to once and for all, get things going in our region and get us closer to being at par with the rest of Ethiopia. Kudos to President Cabdi Maxamed Cumar and his administration.
At the risk of stating the obvious, let me say this would not be possible without the thousands of state employees who come out to work day in and day out to keep the regional government humming. The fact that there are over a hundred thousand salaried employees throughout the region is in itself an amazing feat.
I said in the beginning that I would talk about what I saw, but seriously there is something to be said for Jigjiga’s intangibles. There is a sense of vibrancy that permeates through the city. For folks who yearn to see what it feels like to visit home, now may be a good time to plan for next summer’s visit.
Anwar A. Shifow
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily represent that of Xaajo.