The reopening last week of the only road between Burao and Buhodle in Somaliland’s Togdheer region symbolized the resolution of a violent feud between two clans that has rumbled on in a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge for eight years.
Local elders and religious leaders successfully mediated peace talks in Qorilugud village, 40 km north of Buhodle.
Sheikh Omar Ahmed, an elder in Buhodle, told Radio Ergo that they finally reached consensus involving handing over a man accused of killing another man to the victim’s family.
This murder occurred during a fight between two families over water in April 2011. It sparked the conflict that escalated between the clans that led to eight battles between them and the deaths of around 300 people.
Under the traditional justice that will take its course, the man handed over will face execution.
Sheikh Omar said they had also agreed that a number of other issues in the area would be solved by the elders from both clans.
The 160 km road, an important route for the livestock trade from south-central Somalia, was barricaded and out of bounds for eight years during the conflict. Traders and other travellers were forced to use longer routes. The residents lived in constant fear for their own lives and their families.
Abdirahman Ahmed Ali, a truck driver, told Radio Ergo they used to travel 300 km by-passing the conflict area to reach other parts of the region. These trips took 16 hours. Now the road is open, the travel time has been reduced to six hours.
Fares have also gone down as a result. Abdirahman said he has reduced the fare per person from $20 to $10.
More than 30 shops, restaurants and other small businesses in Qorilugud closed down during the period of conflict as trade shrank.
Yusuf Abdullahi Mohamed, a restaurant owner in Qorilugud, said he had just reopened his business after closing two months after the conflict erupted. Customers were starting to come back, he said, as the local residents who fled were now returning and travellers were once again passing through what had been a conflict zone. Around five trucks arrive in a day.