Bossaso, 24 November 2016 – Bossaso Municipality, in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland, launched its first ever urban development plan at a town hall meeting this month. The planned city extension will accommodate urban growth and bring public services closer to communities in Puntland’s economic hub. The plan is the first one that adopts the planning standards and principles of Punt land’s Urban Regulatory Framework, approved by the government in November 2015.

Among the nearly 85 participants who accepted an invitation from Mayor Yasin Mire Mohamud were elders from all neighbourhoods, religious leaders, representatives of women’s committees, the diaspora, and the business community, including the Chamber of Commerce.

“This is a good day for Bossaso, and a day that residents have awaited for a long time,” stated Puntland’s Finance Minister Abdulahi Sheikh Ahmed, summarizing the feelings of many participants.

Minister of Ports and Maritime Transport Said Mohamed Rage called for the contributions of landlords, businesspeople, communities, and the diaspora to make the plan a reality: “If we are together and everybody contributes, then we can make Bossaso the most beautiful city.”

Dedicated collaboration

Representatives from the business community expressed their commitment to the plan, the implementation of which starts with road surveying and demarcation in selected areas. The mayor informed the group that various donors are being approached for funding capital intensive projects. Participants were particularly interested in knowing the planning phases and the land use categories. Some highlighted the need to rehabilitate the inner city areas.

The City Extension Plan is aimed at accommodating urban growth over the next eight to ten years in Bossaso, Puntland’s seaport and Somalia’s third largest city, with more than half a million inhabitants. The first two phases along the recently finished eastern bypass and the planned western bypass shall include access roads and social infrastructure close to the homes of the expected 50,000 new residents. The plan outlines the main road network; the designated areas for housing, markets, and other commercial activities; the new stadium, intercity bus terminal, and long-awaited public beach.

Bossaso Municipality had decided during its July 2016 session to have a series of local consultations prior to the town hall meeting. Recommendations from various ministries and local stakeholders were incorporated into the final draft of the plan, reflecting environmental concerns and the desire to have a buffer zone around the new airport.

UN-Habitat (under the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery) gave technical support to the municipality during the entire planning process. The support for urban planning follows a dedicated collaboration that has seen not only the construction of thousands of houses for internally displaced people and returnees, but also the construction of the eastern bypass, which has reduced traffic congestion in the city centre and improved access to the seaport.