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Bilan's engineering career takes off

Bilan Abdirahman, 25, who graduated from Gollis University's Department of Civil Engineering, relocated from Hargeisa to the Togdheer region to work on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Somaliland to get hands-on experience for her career take-off.

"Sometime after I graduated, I was employed by the Roads Development Authority (RDA) and worked on a couple of their projects. Working on the Burao-Berbera Road Rehabilitation Project, on the other hand, is a turning point in my career and a golden opportunity that has opened my eyes to the professional world," says Bilan at Karasharka, one of the road rehabilitation sites.

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Bilan and five other recently graduated engineers are now working on the Burao-Berbera Road Rehabilitation Project, which is funded by the Somaliland Development Fund (SDF). She is among six young engineers chosen as understudy engineers under the project's capacity development component and seconded to the. They are contracted to stay in Burao and Sheikh for 16 months, learn from experts, and contribute to rehabilitation efforts.

The Burao-Berbera Road Rehabilitation Project entails the rehabilitation of a 62-kilometer road section and the construction of four bridges between Burao and Berbera towns in order to improve livestock trade between Berbera Port and the largest livestock base in Somaliland's eastern regions.

Bilan collaborates with the Resident Engineer on project supervision and quality assurance as part of the rehabilitation work. "I shadow the Resident Engineer for supervising the road diversions, demolition activities, culverts, and the reconstruction of a 12-kilometer stretch of road from Dubur village to Sheikh district, which is going well. He also taught me how to approach contractors and what to look for when inspecting," Bilan says on a site monitoring day.

Bilan also helps with construction progress reporting and attends regular meetings with the contractor to discuss tasks and progress. "I learned to read construction plans and supervise proper surveying, measurement, road diversion, clearing, and grubbing."

After working with a group of experts, Bilan has built a variety of skills and became more familiar with various codes and manuals that are commonly used in the industry. She has also had the opportunity to work in various towns and communities and become financially self-sufficient. She learned how to prepare work requests and Interim Payment Certificates for large contractors, in addition to rehabilitation work.

Bilan with fellow graduates

After this SDF-funded attachment, Bilan intends to move to RDA's technical division and advance to the top. Additionally, she is planning to establish a small engineering company in the near future to sharpen her skills to the next level and provide entry for more women into the engineering arena.

Every project funded under the Somaliland Development Fund's second phase has a significant capacity development component that is related to the fund's broader objectives. The goal is to provide hands-on knowledge to MDA staff so they can help ensure the projects' sustainability by providing longer-lasting services to communities. In the future, these engineers will assist the government in managing the country's infrastructure.