Robbery is becoming a norm in Jigjiga city. While some people attribute the ‘increasing unemployment’ for the looting of house equipment, others are concerned with the way the police are handling the issue.
Nuredin Mohammed lives in 01 Kebelle, which is located in the North-West end of the town of Jigjiga. He recalls the day he went out for work a month ago, early in the morning. His wife and daughter were in Somaliland for family matters and he was alone and left the house unattended. “I only found a few of my belongings in the house when I returned; my TV, drawer, blankets, fridge and other materials were taken” he says.
Such lootings have become common in his vicinity and have been happening frequently for the past few months. Some of his neighbors have been victims as well, but nothing was solved and the neighbours quarrelled amongst themselves by pointing fingers at each other's kids. “I always see teenagers sitting at every corner of the neighbourhood sharing cigarettes and marijuana,” says Nuredin, “but I never expected that they would come to my home and steal my belongings.”
Bajaj and other vehicle drivers also complain of the robberies that have become rampant recently. Spare parts are taken once a vehicle is parked somewhere, and that has become the new norm. Tewodros Abebe uses a bicycle to move around. He went to a nearby private school one day to enroll his son. “I left my bike outside and got in the building to enroll my son but when I came out my bike was gone.” says Tewodros. In the end the school owners negotiated with the youth around the area, and his bike was returned after payment to the robbers. “Police involvement wasn’t even an issue there,” he adds.
“This issue is related with the growing high unemployment rate in the city,” says Mr. Abdi Shakur, a lecturer of Sociology in Jigjiga University. He says that such crimes have been in the making, but the recent developments are alarming. “The government needs to devise a solid mechanism to engage the youth in fruitful job creations.” he says.
Mohammed Roblie, a job creation and expansion expert in the city’s Municipality acknowledges the reality. But, “solutions should be holistic”, he says. Mr. Roblie adds “The city Administration together with the Region and other stakeholders are working in creating conducive environments for jobs, but things are not working out as well as we expected them to.”
Mr. Abdi Ismaiel who is an official of Crime Investigation in the Region’s Police Commission says successive investigations have been made. He says four people have been detained in the city so far. According to the police officer the criminals were controlled with strict police follow-ups in line with tip-offs from the community. “The problem to control such crimes so far is suspected criminals are youngsters and some people hide information to protect their siblings and their family members” he says. “But the City Administration together with the Police Crime Investigation Division is working to create awareness at the Kebelle level by organizing discussion forums in order to minimize crimes” he added.
“The Region’s Crime Investigation focuses on the collaboration of the police forces and the residents in protecting the crime and correcting the suspected youth in such acts,” claims Mr. Abdi. He hopes these awareness creation programs would result in correcting the youth.
Whether the case is unemployment or lack of an effective role that should be played by the police to enforce laws and protect the residents from such unlawful practices of the youth, the victims interviewed for this article believe that the Regional government and the City administration need to address this growing evil in Jigjiga city fast.