Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Gongo La Mboto bomb blast that caused panic, fear, great horror and sorrow to the people around.

ON 16th of February 2011 is a day which cannot be forgotten easily by residents of Gongo la Mboto and other suburbs surrounding the area of it. A moment of panic and sorrow struck the atmosphere that night as most people were preparing to calm down in their sitting rooms to hear news of the day from their television sets, while others were getting prepared for the last meals of the day which they had already prepared and couldn’t eat. But all of a sudden the atmosphere was struck and polluted by the so-called bomb smokes as a result of explosions which occurred from their amoury where they had been kept in a nearby military camp NO: KJ511. A continuous explosions caused panic and horror that made almost everybody to flee in all directions from their residences to unknown destinations, but it was all meant to find a safe place in order to save their lives. Many people were injured while running away and about 22 people lost their lives. Most people took to their heels as far as National stadium 15 kilometers away from the area where they slept

People looking in disbelief a devastated house of their neinghbour that belonged to one person known by many as ‘baba Assu’ at Kipunguni “B” in Markaz area in Gongo la Mboto division, the area was among the destroyed areas by the recent bomb blast that rocked the air.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

I was among the affected people in the area, I am residing close to the areas which in one way of another were wrecked havoc by these bombs. It was around 20:15 when I had just come from taking shower from the bathroom and was getting prepared to sit down watching news bulleting from my Television set as a normal routine, when I had a loud blast that, made me to panic. I wondered what was it as I looked to the direction from where it sounded. I immediately knew it was a bomb which had blasted or if not so, might have been set to destroy the enemy at such unlikely time. The military camp is located just about 2 kilometers away from the area. As people began to move in panic, there were a series of other bombs blasting one after the other. We could see a glittering light in the air coming from the military direction then followed by a loud blast that caused fear.

A young boy looking at a missile that had missed fire and fell over the electric transmission lines and cut down the wires from the electric poles. Several of them were picked around the area by the military task force later. About 1,120 pieces of bombs were picked from the mostly devastated areas.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

Almost everybody around fled while the fearless ones took refuge near their houses and laid down prostrate on the ground leaving behind everything in their unlocked houses. As I was strolling slowly around with unbelievable eyes, I heard the voice of someone who was urging the fleeing people who by then were running in great pursuit “don’t run, just lie down” the voice went on saying severally to the fleeing group of people who passed along his house. It was Mzee Masatu Mfungo, a retired military officer who served the military for the last 35 years. Major Masatu was once an in-charge officer at the military camp in early 1980s before his retirement from the force in 2005. Because of his long experience in the military force and the use of these bombs, therefore he is very much familiar with the camp and its surrounding. People obeyed him and I also joined the group who at last resort to gather in front of his house in a large compound whereby we all lied down until the blasts subsided.

The photo story tells itself, one shows a missile that missed direction and another one two bothers peeps through the window of their devastated house that morning.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

Some, but few houses around my area were completely destroyed while others got a wall crack which occurred as a result of large sounds emanating from the blasts which according to military offers were BM, Rocket rounger and other types that could not be defined immediately. Children got lost and were unfound after two to four days. When all was quite, people started to return back to their houses which were left unlocked by their owners. As I was seated in my house, one neighbour came as he was passing by going to his house. He greeted me as a way to know my condition and told him all was well. Then I joined him to move around to see what had happened to other neighbours. We found none had his/her house destroyed other than one neighbour whom we all know by his son’s name “Baba Assu” had his house destroyed completely. Now his family is sustained under two tents which were provided by the Disaster Management team from the Prime Minister’s office. About 79 families are currently living under the tents as they wait for the government to rebuild their destroyed houses.

They later walked around pondering over what to do after this aftermaths.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

The next day news about the bombs began to spread about, death tolls and the injured were known later. I was telephoned in the afternoon by someone, a close relative of mine who informed about the tragic deaths of a fellow villager who had lost his wife and two children, and another one who lost a daughter. So in total were four which later were transported to their ancestral home for burial. This is Jacob Nyanjiego who for this incident had a great sorrow for that. THE Lord has given and the Lord has taken, so says the Bible. But this seemed to be too much for Mr Jacob Nyajiego (49) who lost his wife as well as two daughters. It was all grief on 20th day of February, three days after the bomb explosions at the home of Mr Nyajiego at Mzambarauni area, where hundreds of mourners turned up to pay last respects to their departed neighbours.

On the next day, reports by the media alerted people around that other bombs would explode again, so because of this news most people vacated their homes and took refuge to unknown destinations. The daladala found it a booming business as some other fleeing passengers went on board their buses.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

Three caskets carrying the remains of Rose Nyajiego (34) as well as Clementina (3) and Stellah (3 months) were placed before the crowd of grief-stricken mourners, who braced scorching sun to follow up a Requiem Mass said by Ukonga’s Roman Catholic Parish Priest, Father Stephano Nyelawila. The mood was sombre, with some mourners, mostly women breaking down in tears after paying their last respects to the deceased. The three family members died after a concrete slab fell on them when one of the bombs hit a house they had run to for safety. During the burial ceremony, Mr Nyajiego was apparent the saddest man, keeping his head down throughout the burial ceremony, much as he appeared composed. I observed hundreds of mourners at the funeral, including relatives, neighbours, leaders of political parties as well as journalists among others who turned up to cover the event as it was declared to be a national mourning day for the Gongo La Mboto bomb explosions victims.

A woman looking at a pit nearby her house which was dug by a flying bomb that landed on the ground. The bomb was later on retrieved by the military task force group.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

And, few metres from Mr Nyajiego’s home, there was also another funeral for Ms Neema James (14), who was the former’s niece. According to the mourners, on the fateful night, Ms Rose had decided to flee from her home with her daughters, amid the flying bombs. Sensing that they could no longer run away from the missiles, they took refuge at a nearby house. But while waiting for another chance to run, a bomb ripped off the house and shattered it to the ground. Unfortunately, Neema was with her aunt, the concrete slab fell, killing all of them.

Neighbours, friends and relatives who turned up at Jacob Nyajiego’s house to mourn for his deceased wife and two children who perished when a concrete slab fell on them in a house they had taken refuge while running away from the flying bombs. The later photos shows father Stephano Nyelawila conducting a requiem mass for the deceased.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

Notable figures during the funeral ceremony included the Segerea Member of Parliament, who doubles as Deputy Minister for Labour, Employment and Youth Development, Dr Makongoro Mahanga and Ilala Mayor Mr Jerry Silaa. Others were Chama Cha Demokrasia Na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), Secretary General Dr Wilbrod Slaa who was flanked by some CHADEMA legislators including Ezekiel Wenje (Nyamagana), Rev. Israel Natse (Karatu) and Dr Mbasa Gervas (Biharamulo West). CHADEMA contributed Tshs. 300,000 cash as their condolence to the victims. In his sermon, Father Nyelawila said not all deaths are designed by God. Some have been caused by human being mistakes. He, however, cautioned that the incident should not be used to incite chaos or disturb peace and tranquility that the country enjoys. The bodies were transported to Rorya District in Mara Region Sunday afternoon where they were laid to rest.

The Secretary General of the Chama Cha Maendeleo (“CHADEMA”) the strongest political party in Tanzania Dr. Wibroad Slaa, delivering his sorrowful speech during the funerals. His party contributed Tshs. 300,000/- to the bereaved family. The later photo shows his arrival as people paved the way for him to pass.

Bomb explosions that caused panic and fear

The Gongo La Mboto incident had shocked many Dar es Salaam city residents Bomb explosions that caused panic and fearwho most of them volunteered to help the victims at all costs. Government, parastatal organizations, civil groups and individuals contributed money and some household materials for the victims. In another development, the TPDF Director of Information and Communication, Lieutenant Colonel Kapambala Mgawe, confirmed to the nation that the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Davis Mwamunyange, had on given a go ahead to the team formed to investigate the deadly incident as it was said that a number of bombs have been spotted in Kimara, Mbezi Kwa Msuguri, Temboni and Kibamba.

A member of parliament for Segerea constituency and an Assistant Minister Dr. Makongoro Mahanga represented the government during the funerals. He is seen giving a vote of thanks to the mourners who turned up during the occasion.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Construction on hilly lands

It has become impossible for the Mwanza city fathers to continue stopping the construction of individual houses on steep hilly lands. Mwanza city ever since before has been experiencing problems of land on which to construct individual houses. But this is due to poor planning system of te city during that time. In view of this, people resort to hilly lands as this photo can show, few but many houses have been constructed in order to cater for the problem of housing. But the question we have to ask ourselves is that, are these people staying over there getting their social needs such as electricity, do they have heath facilities such as lavatories, but how do they get any other special attention from the government?

When a driver violates traffic rules

In Dar es Salaam city, drivers have to drive carefully and with great caution bearing in mind the fact that, there is a long que of vehicles almost in all major roads bursting within the city and even through those ones bursting out to the city’s outskirts. One incident occurred recently at a commuter bus stop when a taxi driver car’s battery had no power of starting his car and in order to get through, he had to hire fellow driver with another car to come nearby in order to help him boost up his car’s battery. Without knowing that, the exercise would take a length of time, traffic jam was caused an aspect that forced the incoming vehicles to strand on a daytime drizzling atmosphere. This was at a commuter bus stop known as “Baridi” which is located opposite Peacock Hotel at the centre of the main business district.

Public transport: Level seat challenging but possible

THE nature of public transport system in the country is very pathetic to say the least. It is characterized by rough roads and dilapidated passenger vehicles. Careless drivers and congestion in the vehicles. Looking at the nature of the commuter buses in Dar es Salaam, leave alone other towns in the country, one would wonder if it is easy for Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) to take abut level seat. Many of our buses nowadays are made in such away that there are very few seats on the edges leaving a lot of space for passengers to stand. Standing in commuter vehicles has become the norm in the city of Dar es Salaam with the number of those standing surpassing that of those seated. For instance, a mini-bus Hiace type that carries between 14 and 18 passengers in some countries take made takes up to 30 here in Tanzania. This ill trend has been allowed to develop riots since neither the traffic police nor SUMATRA has taken firm decisive steps to stem it out. As a result, we continue witnessing the increasing level of disorders in the sector, with the bus touts striving to squeeze in those vehicles as many people as they can manage. Ironically the passengers themselves don’t seem to mind the inconveniences.

Whenever there is a problem on commuter bus transport as in the case above, women are the most sufferers as you can see some of them with their babies on their back pondering over what to do. This was on 17th February when people were taking to their fleet to seek for refuge from Gongo La Mboto suburb following rumours that other bombs were to be exploded by the militiamen at KJ511. It was very hectic as everyone was trying to save up their lives from a threat that bore nothing.

have become so accustomed to this mistreatment until they consider it the norm. If you get irritated that someone has stepped on you in such an overcrowded bus, you will only maker it worse if you attempt to castigate the person who has done it. Otherwise you will be subjected to scorn to the effect that if you didn’t want to be stepped on, you could have just hired a taxi or bought your own car. For those who are used to this hard side reality, they know white clothes especially in the rainy season is a no go zone, otherwise you will honour yourself, what with mud and all the crease your clothes will get? But who really cares? After all public transport seems to be meant for people of low income ability. Meanwhile: The Dar es Salaam Commuter Bus Association (DARCOBOA) is pushing for an increase in fares despite of the recent fare increase saying that it is too little to run the operational costs. And as if awakened from a deep slumber, SUMATRA has now promised to ensure that level seat for commuter buses is taken strictly or else commuter bus owners should go to Tanzania Revenue Authority to change their licenses to be allowed to ferry standing passengers. But this is what they have been doing, SUMATRA in essence is admitting that they have been compromising some of these important laws causing untold suffering to commuters. But even as they make SUMATRA awakes to ensure sobriety in this sector, they must appreciate the hard reality that the number of buses verses the number of passengers in the city might not go well with level seat.

Following shortage of commuter buses around, people were seen clinging at the back of the commuter bus precariously and in oblivious to the danger posed to their lives.

Despite of The Dar es Salaam city is currently having a population of nearly five million people, and is served by a pantry number of about 7,000 buses. Thus for level seat initiative to hold water and effectively serve all commuters buses with bigger capacity have to be brought in. Otherwise trying to implement the directive without making such arrangement will only cause huge delays for people who travels to and from towns. I am not saying that, it is impossible to have level; seat but there is a lot that needs to be done not only top increase the number of buses, but also to train the commuters to avoid breaking the law by boarding an already full vehicle. Creating order and discipline in the transport sector is much welcome. indeed it is long overdue. That is why there should be intense collaboration between traffic police and all institutions mandated with the responsibility of supervising the sector.

The astonishing presence of monkeys from a nearby national park

POLICE at Magu based control check point along Mwanza-Musoma-Tarime main road are sometimes aught to take care of the roaming monkeys who emerge from a nearby Serengeti National park. The presence of these monkeys astonishes some passengers especially strangers who travels in a bus while standing for a while at the main police control check point for inspection before are allowed to continue with the journey through. A spot check by this writer witnessed recently a scores of them walking in groups along the road as though are looking for something to devour. Their presence does not only cause a fascinating look, but also a great threat to passengers on board when turned fury. Some monkeys who invades the area sometimes tend to create havoc to passengers who enjoys taking a glimpse at them through bus windows, threatening them to ripe apart their valuable properties and other documents in their possession.

Monkeys from a nearby Serengeti national park, roaming about along the main road near the control police check point at Magu in Mwanza region.

The increasingly aggressive animals swing effortlessly between the police offices who seem to be accustomed with them and nobody takes no action to curb with them including the police for fear of the animals’ law that protects them as national properties. Some people who happens to look at them are surprised and asks for themselves as to why the ministry of tourism does not provide any protection for them and leaves them to roam about outside the national park. But Experts from the Ministry of Tourism have once cautioned transporters who travels along the main roads that passes through national parks that, “they must ensure that, their passengers do not dare to throw anything to the animals like monkeys who seem to be friendly to human beings for fear of being endangered by chemically contained edible things they carry along with them”. Interviewed animal rights activists say the main problem is not the rising number of monkeys but their presence might be linked to their search of something crucial for their life resulting from any shortage of anything like the problem of water emanating from their wildlife conservation areas.

The government to build rest houses for passengers

THE Government through the Ministry of Transport is planning to set up rest houses which would be built along the main roads countrywide. The houses would provide lavatory services to cater for the need of passengers traveling along. The move will be a permanent solution to a long standing problem which is facing passengers who takes long hours while on their safari, and once in need of helping themselves resort to enter in nearby bushes, a situation described as “Kuchimba dawa”. The call was made recently by the Deputy Minister for Transport Dr. Athuman Mfutakamba when being interviewed in a special report program aired by Independent Television (ITV). Dr. Mfutakamba was required to clarify what steps his ministry takes following a research carried by TV crews through the Dar-Iringa-Mbeya-Tunduma road which revealed that passengers on board in a long hour travel receives some difficulties when it comes to the need of helping themselves, and instead resort to go to the bush a situation which has been described to be environmentally unfriendly. The Deputy Minister said, his ministry would corporate with the Ministry of Works who undertakes the construction of upcountry roads and deliberate on the possible measures together with setting a special budget that would be discussed in the parliament during a parliamentary budget sessions for the coming financial year of 2011/2012.

A 65 seater bus traveling to Mwanza when it had stopped by the main road along Morogoro-Dodoma highway after one of its hind tires bust. Passengers sometimes use this opportunity to help themselves in nearby bushes before proceeding on. I took this photograph when traveling to Mwanza, the bus later on was caught by the traffic police on its arrival in Dodoma city when one passenger tipped off traffic police after discovering that almost all its tires were in bad condition.

bus On their deliberations, the assistant minister said that, the government would also look for donors to help by contributing to this project that aims not only to help the weary passengers, but also get away with the habit of polluting the environment which is caused by passengers who helps themselves in forests while traveling an aspect which has been described to be diminishing people’s dignity. The weary upcountry transport routes which takes longer hours for passengers to arrive to their final destination points are routes of Dar-Morogoro-Iringa-Mbeya and Tunduma in southern highland regions which covers about 1,200 kilometers and a bus transporter spends between 15 and 16 hours to arrive to the final destination. Another route is that one of Dar-Dodoma-Singida-Shinyanga-Mwanza in northern regions. The stretch of this road which passes through five regions has 1140 kilometers and transporters spends between 14 and 15 hours to arrive, and the last one is Dar-Korogwe-Moshi-Arusha which is a bit shorter and takes about 8 hours only to arrive. By considering the length of the journey, passengers must be getting tired and overcome such unavoidable circumstances of body relieving must occur, despite of the fact that, the Ministry of Transport has been receiving many complaints by transporters who wanted the government to find a permanent solution to their passengers who by no means have to help themselves in bushes. “It is high time now that the government should successfully build lavatories and make the selected areas become a hub of business” said Dr. Mfutakamba.