Two roads, similar history – Awdal Road and Fairfax Country Road
Bashir Goth, Washington D.C, Sept. 07, 2010
It is more than 30 years since the people of Borama started their long journey for the building of the Borama-Dilla Road. They started their bidding in the early 1980s when the construction of the tarmac road coming from Hargeisa was abandoned at Dilla. Ever since, the elders of Awdal have tirelessly raised the issue with every government delegation and every NGO that came to the region. Now after almost 30-odd years, the people have realized that an external assistance was not forthcoming and the only way they could build the road was to rely on their community’s resources and effort.
Having that in mind, it was inspiring for me to read a similar story in the pages of the Washington Post where the community of Fairfax County, Virginia in the United States, had to wait for 50 years for the construction of a road. I just happened to open the pages of the paper’s Sunday edition on Sept. 6, 2010 to read the following title:
After 50 years, Fairfax County Parkway finally heads toward the finish line
As I delved deeper into the story with great interest I was amazed by the resemblance of the history of the two roads despite the difference between the two communities in terms of wealth and civilization. The Fairfax Country Parkway was built in pieces just like the Borama-Dilla Road is being built now, mile by mile.
"The funding has been so uneven over the years, and as a result it got built in pieces," said Rep. Gerry E. Connolly, who served as a Fairfax County commissioner for 14 years before being elected to Congress in 2008.
Just as the Awdal community found the government to be an unreliable financial supporter and had to rely instead on local money, the Fairfax County community also found the state to be a non-reliable funding partner and had to resort to local community for support.
"The state wasn't a reliable funding partner, and an unusual percentage of the project got funded by local dollars,” Connolly said.
The comparison, however, has a more bitter taste for the Fairfax County community as their County happens to be the most prosperous county in one of the most prosperous states in America, while the Borama-Dilla Road is located in one of the poorest regions in Africa. Therefore, while the progress of the Fairfax Country Road was hampered by government bureaucracy, the delay of the Borama-Dilla Road was partly due to lack of resources and partly due to lack of proper appropriation of the government’s meager resources.
"It has taken seven Virginia governors and the better part of four decades to complete a 35-mile roadway in the most prosperous county in one of the most prosperous states in the country," said Bob Chase, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance. "That's relevant in terms of how complicated and difficult it is to advance critically needed transportation projects in Northern Virginia."
As the Fairfax Road nears its end, the community there has already started dreaming of a brighter future where metro services should come to the area.
"Metro has got to be a part of our future," Connolly said. "It's got to come down I-66 to Gainesville, it's got to come down I-95 to Potomac Mills and we've got to have light rail down the Richmond highway corridor.
Maybe it is time for Awdal people as well to start planning for the post road period, a period where they have to dream of a new dawn of larger highways and even train or metro systems connecting the different parts of the region. But as Connolly urged the Fairfax County community for patience by saying:
"These things are critical projects for the future…but these things take time. You can't just do them overnight." I may also caution the people of Awdal that with patience and perseverance that you will prevail. So fellow Awdalites, stay the course and know that you are not alone in your struggle for development as you share history with one of the richest counties and states in America.