Mesqan, Mareqo clash hampers Butajira’s growth

The unresolved clash between Mesqan and Mareqo Weredas (districts) over territory has been negatively affecting the revenue collection and growth of the City over the past few years, says Butajira City head of revenue office.

Located in Gurage Zone in Southern Region of Ethiopia, Butajira City’s annual revenue has been growing from about 67 million Birr in 2014/15 to 107 million Birr in 2017/18. Meanwhile the annual revenue of Butajira City the following year 2018/19 has declined to about 103 million Birr. This is because of the conflict between Mesqan, Mareqo Weredas found near Butajira City has erupted leading to death of many and displacement of thousands.
The dispute began after Mareqo Wereda (district) claimed nine Kebeles (areas) to be included within its administrative jurisdictions. Previously the Kebeles were under Mesqan Wereda.

As a result the City administration has not been able to meet its targets, according to Gulilat Yirdaw, head of Butajira City Revenue Branch Office, who told that he personally has also lost his brother because of the clashes between the two Weredas. He indicated that still the dispute between Mareqo and Mesqan didn’t get a lasting solution by the regional or federal government and needs serious attention.

Mesqan, Mareqo clash hampers Butajira’s growth
Mesqan, Mareqo clash hampers Butajira’s growth

As a result of the conflict over 35,000 people are still displaced and didn’t returned to their original living areas, according to Gulilat.   “These people need support of government agencies and other non-governmental organizations to be returned to their previous normal lives and become productive and contribute to the growth of our City,” he said.

“I remember at some point we couldn’t be able to collect revenue. And the people who should be productive and paying taxes have been affected by the deadly clashes,” he said to in an exclusive interview.

In addition to the conflict the recent coronavirus pandemic, and tax relief decision to some merchants worth 12 million Birr last year have also negatively impacted revenue collection of Butajira City, according to Gulilat. “But amid all these challenges, Butajira City is fully covering its expenses at the time from the taxes it has been collecting,” he said.

Five years ago the revenue of Butajira from different taxes and services was 83 million Birr. He noted that though the plan of the City was to collect revenue of 148.6 million Birr last year ended July 7, 2020, Butajira City has achieved close to 80 percent of its target collecting 118.4 million Birr.

While training business is one of the major sources of revenue for the City, Butajira as one of the fastest growing cities of Ethiopia, offers many opportunities for investors from manufacturing of ceramics products and other consumer goods, to agribusinesses among others, according to Mr. Gulilat.