Junior laborers and manual workers of the Kismayo's port are complaining about new orders from the al Qaeda linked militant Islamist group al-Shabab, demanding they quit working and join the insurgents' jihad against Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), especially in the towns of Dobley, Qoqani and Afmadow in Lower Juba Region.
One of the laborers who spoke to terrir free somalia on the condition of anonymity said work has been replaced by military training. “Al-shabaab militias told us that we would be trained. We are given sermons every afternoon and we are warned that action will be taken against anyone who does not obey the new orders."
Workers who have been forced into service by quitting their jobs now have no income for their families. One laborer told terror free somalia that they are terrified that they will be driven out to the frontlines at gunpoint and against their will.
On Thursdays and Fridays al-Shabaab leaders from the Lower Juba Regional Administration visit the port and address the staff of the port, calling for them to defend the plan to establish Sharia Law in the country.
Although activities have managed to continue at the port, locals worry that these new orders are affecting its productivity since Kismayo regularly moves food, vehicles, charcoal and other products through the area bound for Gulf states. Many of the highly skilled laborers are in military training as ships and trucks wait to be loaded and unloaded.
The port of Kismayo, the second largest sea port in South Central Somalia, was captured by the militants in 2008.
This is not the first time new orders are imposed on the workers at the port of Kismayo by al-Shabaab. Last year al-Shabab’s highest official in Kismayo, Mr. Hassan Yakub Ali, introduced a new fee to be deducted from their wages for the treasury of his group.
In October of last year, similar orders were issued by the militia which forced port laborers to attend military training in order to defend the port if attacked. They also threatened those who failed to participate would not be allowed to work in the port.
The new penalties for those who disobey the group’s new orders are worse. For many of the laborers, none of the options are any better than joining the group: if they leave their job, then they can't feed their families; when they go to the combat zones, they risk getting killed or injured; and if they refuse to go to war, they risk the provocation of the group.