Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pay day in Mogadishu frontlines.

By Guled Mohamed

Mogadishu, January 21 – It is always sweet to receive your dues after a hard work and that is the feeling among Somalia’s military officers who recently received their stipends for their-much needed efforts to protect the government and civilian populations against an onslaught by the ruthless Al-Shabab insurgents.

At least 8000 soldiers received $100 each in a peaceful exercise that lasted for 10 days from 29th December to 7th January 2011 and which was overseen by AMISOM and coordinated by IGAD under the watchful eye of Colonel Dido Rasso from Kenya and his team who were reporting to the AMISOM Force Commander Major General Nathan Mugisha who in turn played the crucial role of linking the team with the donors and Somali government.

In a bid to end months of anxiety and prevent any double payments all the soldiers were paid from their positions in the many frontlines in Mogadishu in order to help the government ascertain the exact number of its forces so that it can better address the many challenges facing the embattled force.

AMISOM Force Commander Major General Nathan Mugisha hailed the team for a job well done and called upon the donors urging them to continue assisting the Somali government to ensure soldiers get their stipends and in future their pay on monthly basis just like any other stable country in the world.

“The Somali soldiers are playing a crucial role in safeguarding their country and people. It is therefore only fair for them to get their dues in regular basis in order to give them an impetus to continue protecting their nation. The payment team and the Somali government both worked tremendously hard to make sure each soldier gets his deserved share. AMISOM will always continue to support the Somali people and the government as required by its mandate,”

Colonel Rasso said that the payment was conducted in the government-controlled districts of Bondere, Shangani, Wadajir, Hodan, HamarJajab, Dharkenlay and Waberi. Three teams went round all the military bases to pay-off the government forces.

Each soldier was required to append his or her signature on the payment rooster to confirm receipt of the stipend. Those who received their dues included wounded soldiers hurt in the line of duty. Many others died protecting their nation from callous insurgents with ties to Al-Qaeda.

Some of the hot spot positions where the team visited included Juba hotel, Uruba hotel, Shangaalaha, Hosh and Tarbuunka where the team had to sometimes dodge bullets and pay in the midst of heavy battles.

“The exercise was a success and it has given us an insight into the TFG military which will go a long way to better streamline the force and harmonize their pay system. This was the main reason why we had to oversee the exercise. I believe the government will see the fruits of the exercise soon. I wish to thank AMISOM Force Commander, the military leadership and the Minister of Defence for their cooperation and vision which made it easy for us to pay the deserving soldiers their little dues in the many frontline positions,” Colonel Rasso said.

The paid soldiers were simply elated and hope their dues would be regular. They also promised to diligently work for their country and warned the opposition forces to prepare for the worst now that their morale is high. The pay also enforced discipline as some soldiers who used to abscond their duty are now reportedly clutching on their rifles already defending their country hoping they will now get their dues regularly.

“I am so happy because I can now at least pay my debts. We have waited for this day for so long. The government must ensure we get our arrears and our future salary is paid in time so that we can also feed our families. We will continue to fight for our country and protect our people because that is what is expected of us as the military,” TFG Liaison Officer Lieutenant Issa Mohamed said.