It began with a “cracking” noise. Several minutes later a storey which had stood in the Mogadishu’s oldest district, Hamarweyne for more than 100 years was just a heap of rubble and thatch in the road.
The morning sunny lull was broken by a loud crash of collapsing debris. Tens of people fled in all directions fearing the worst, as more others ran towards the crash site.
“When we arrived we found an extremely chaotic situation,” said Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, Hamarweyne district commissioner.
“We moved two people with light injuries from the collapsed building to outside and we ferried them to the hospital,” he explained.
There are many such storeys in the city downtown where hundreds live in constant fear. The buildings are not the responsibility of any particular live, and have deteriorated over the last century without any maintenance.
Mogadishu has around 1,600 houses built during colonial era between 70 years and more than a century ago, most of them in the downtown area.
Nearly most of them now belong to civilians and few are under the ownership the government and have been haunting for more than two decades.
Abdikadir said more than ten families live in old storey, which is in an alley along Via-Roma Street, with each of family living in rooms of around 16 square meters plus an attic.They share the kitchen and bathrooms.
Omar, a man living on the ground floor of old storey in the area, said the place is so old that if one taps the wall lightly mortar falls off.
“It would be bad luck to say this, but if it collapses there is nothing I can do but die.”
The concern has never been so real as this 100-year-old storey collapsed after heavy rain that has been hitting the city for about a week but luckily it slightly injured two occupants who are lucky enough to have their lives spared by the chance.
Without better management, the risk of more of these building collapsing is very real, said Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, following today’s incident.
Hassan Mohamed who has been living in another old building not far away from where incident took place, for the last 20 years, said he cannot sleep well at night due constant fear.
“This is old house, I am living here for twenty, we know the building needs renovation but most of the buildings here are either inheritance which their inheritors are away or their owners are outside the country therefore no one wants to renovate it and we know nowhere to shift from this one,” he said.
Some buildings shake any time a large vehicle passes by on the road, he said.
Mohamed Bin Ali, 75 years old who was born in Hamarweyne district has been living in this district, he says that in many of the colonial era built houses, the concrete has worn off at parts, exposing rusty iron frames.
“I have removed the ceiling fan since the roof has become very weak,” a woman living in a house that is older than the one that collapsed said.