Friday, May 27, 2011

India Prime Minister visits Tanzania

Tanzania's President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and his guest Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh receives a salute from TPDF soldiers at the Julius Nyerere International Airport during the reception of the Indian Minister yesterday in Dar es Salaam. Photo by Guardian 27.5.2011

African states challenged to invest in ICT

Vice-President Dr Ghalib Bilal has called on African governments to invest heavily in information and communication technology (ICT), describing it as a strategic drive for addressing increasing challenges facing the education sector. “This is indeed an inevitable component in the process of improving the quality of education in the continent, including Tanzania,” said Bilal on Wednesday at the official opening of the 6th International Conference on ICT in Dar es Salaam, which drew more than 1,700 participants from across the world. He said remarkable achievements have been recorded in the country’s education sector in terms of access and expansion of infrastructures for schools, colleges, vocational and polytechnics, but warned that the “strides developed some challenges” which required concerted strategies to redress them.“In order to address most of these educational challenges, it is imperative that African governments invest massively in ICT in schools and colleges and job-related ICT training programmes,”

Vice President Dr. Ghalib Bilal

Bilal told the conference that attracted renowned ICT experts and specialists, government ministers and officials, and representatives of private ICT companies and civil societies from Africa, Europe, USA, and other parts of the globe.In order to prepare the youth to become employable, he said, African countries are now engaged in the expansion of education at different levels, but most of them lack necessary skills, knowledge and experience required in the labour market. Under such circumstances, he noted, African youth needed relevant ICT knowledge and skills to make them viable and competitive in the labour markets and hence, become employable and professionally productive. Recognizing the importance of ICT, he said the government embarked on the construction of the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB), which connects all regions and districts through a 10,000-km Optic Fibre Cable. He said the government acknowledges the need to harness ICT in order to meet the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Development Vision-2025, noting that in this respect the national ICT policy emphasizes Tanzanian’s resolve to become a hub of ICT infrastructure and ICT solution in the context of enhancing sustainable social-economic development and accelerating poverty reduction. Jim Adams, World Bank vice-president for East Asia and Pacific Region, said effective application of ICT technologies can rapidly transform the education sector, but cautioned that governments and countries needed to select relevant ICT applications. “Certain factors need to be considered in selecting ICT applications for use in education. Cost of applications is one thing, but relevance of technologies and many other forces must be looked at during the selection process,” he noted. A veteran media expert and activists, Jeneral Ulimwengu, said. “Let’s invest in ICT…if we (Tanzania) fail to invest in desks, classrooms, I don’t know what will happen if we fail to invest in ICT.” “It’s not necessary that we do everything ourselves, we have to borrow some inputs on how to do it from other African countries and beyond,” he added.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maghufuli directs ERB to review road quality

Works minister John Magufuli yesterday directed the Engineers Registration Board (ERB) to examine all roads in the country concentrating on quality and value for money. Magufuli said this after he has received the ERB report for Kilwa road, during the launch of Engineers Practicing License held in Dar es Salaam. He said that ERB must investigate all roads including those funded by donors and the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS). He said the Singida-Shelui and Kilwa roads are among donor funded projects, which have been constructed below standards. “It doesn’t need mathematical knowledge to know that ‘Kilwa Road’ is terrible and below standard. The Singida-Shelui Road was constructed recently but it is already falling apart. We need quality roads that can last longer”, said the minister. Magufuli said that his ministry will provide funds for implementation of the exercise. He said once completed, the report will be taken to the President.

Minister John Maghufuli

He insisted that ERB should appoint honest and patriotic engineers to carry out the investigation. He urged them to be extra careful in checking out district roads, where misuse of public funds had been detected. He said ERB can also play a role in the fight against corruption especially in road projects. He said that the current cost of building one kilometre of a tarmac is 1.8bn/-. He called on ERB to strike off all dishonest engineers and make sure that they are not assigned jobs. “ERB is free….it doesn’t have boundaries, and so it can penetrate everywhere. You should have an extra eye when dealing with municipal councils. Some don’t even employ qualified engineers. As a result most municipal roads are below standard with short durability,” he said. He said every district is required to employ qualified engineers to execute different construction activities including roads. According to 2005 statistics, only 46 municipalities countrywide employed qualified engineers. He said Tanzanians should maintain the roads, adding that since independence the country has managed to tarmac only 6,300 kilometres of them.He said Tanzania has enough engineers to supervise all road projects. He said the number of registered engineers in Tanzania is higher compared to other East African countries. Since its establishment in 2007, the ERB has registered 10,181 engineers. However he cautioned that municipalities are not responsible of providing permits for putting up commercial billboards on roads constructed by the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS). “Municipalities should provide permit for putting up billboards on their own roads”, he said. The minister said that Dar es Salaam was leading in violation of road reserve regulations, whereby most of the reserves have been turned into garages, markets and car parks. According to him, Dar es Salaam is the only city where petrol stations have been built randomly. He said some of the petrol stations are located on residential areas, hampering rescue in emergencies. Presenting the report on Kilwa road, ERB Board Chairman Ninatubu Lema said it was constructed below standard and had safety problems. He advised the government to make sure that local engineers are fully involved in implementation of donor funded projects especially roads. Lema said Kilwa road was constructed by a foreign firm of with funds provided by the government of Japan. “We have inspected the road, it has so many problems. Government eyes should be on these sites all the time to ensure value for money. We would suggest all those involved to be held responsible”, he said. He called on the government to give priority to local engineers, because they were more loyal compared to foreigners. Lema said the number of engineers in the country is still very low, though some progress has been made since 1961 when the country had only two qualified engineers. According to him, Tanzania needs between 60,000 and 80,000 engineers to meet the demand. He said that currently the country produces 1,500 engineers per year. Earlier, Eng Steven Mlote said they have decided to launch the engineers practicing license to promote professionalism. Mlote said the license which is provided by ERB will be given to honest and disciplined engineers only. Reached for comments, a Lawyer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Harold Sungusia said the government’s move to take legal action against the contractor of Kilwa road, depends on the type of the contract signed with the government of Japan. Sungusia said that if the Japanese government provided funds without a contractor, then the Tanzanian government can take legal measures against the contractor. He said in other contracts, donor countries provide funds and a contractor. He said under this circumstance, the government cannot take any legal measure against the contractor. “It depends on the nature of the contract signed between the two parties. If the contractor was awarded the tender by our government, then it would be easy to hold such conttractor responsible” Explaining, he said that in some cases the government could write a letter to the government of Japan and suggest it take legal measures against responsible contractor.


Adopt national policy on sexual, reproductive health-Call

A Call has been made for the development and implementation of comprehensive national policies addressing the provision of sexual and reproductive health services as well as promoting gender equality to protect young people from new HIV/Aids infections. Mbeya City Council Multi-Sectoral Aids Committee (CMAC) chairman Alexander Maemba sounded the call when addressing students of St. Mary’s International Schools – Mbeya campus at the 28th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACMD) Day held last weekend. The event, which attracted more that 1000 people, was jointly organised by Youth Education through Sports Tanzania (YES Tanzania) and the school. He called on the government and other stakeholders to invest more in educating young people on the disease. “There is no way we will be able to curb HIV/Aids if our interventions do not target young people, particularly in areas whose services are not youth friendly,” explained Maemba. He said there was a need to improve access to condoms and high quality, affordable and confidential sexual and reproductive health services, including diagnosis and treatment of HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Addressing the same gathering, a person living with HIV/Aids (PLHA) and a long time HIV/Aids activist Douglas Kisunga urged youths and other people to behave responsibly because living with the virus “is not something one would prefer to.” “If you are not infected with the virus, I urge you to remain negative…and those who are infected already should become role models in the fight against the pandemic, not spreading it further,” he said. Father Magnus from the Catholic Youth Centre (CYC) hailed St. Mary’s and YES Tanzania for organising the event, which he said symbolised love to those living with the disease. “Let us continue with this kind of love now and then to PLHAs and orphans. We need to take measures to make sure that sports help us to remain healthy,” he said. Mbeya City Council HIV/Aids coordinator Anos Mbonekela reminded the audience that stigma and discrimination was the greatest enemy in the fight against HIV/Aids. He said due to stigma and discrimination, PLHAs were not prefering going public and were trying to lead normal lives as if they didn’t carry the virus for fear of being stigmatised. YES Tanzania chairman Kenneth Simbaya said that the programme was committed to fostering development and strengthening young people’s education through sports. He said ignoring young people’s education was equivalent to ignoring the future of the nation. Organisers of the event said, IACMD is observed every year on the third of Sunday of May to remember those who have lost their lives due to HIV/Aids, advocate for increased access to health services and fight stigmatisation and discrimination.


TAZARA services crippled by fund transfer hurdles

Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) workers have called on the two governments to rescue the carrier financially, saying it can neither buy fuel for its routine passenger trains nor pay for salaries. Some of the authority’s employees who popped into The Guardian offices recently said the railway was facing serious financial problems, hence failing to pay employees salaries, purchase fuels, causing passenger trains delays for two days. “We want the governments of Tanzania and Zambia to help us get our salaries. The situation has become tense. If the authority cannot buy fuel for its passenger trains, how can it pay us?” they queried. The workers who attempted a go slow last week, were whisked away by the police, they said. They said the problem is not only confined to Tazara employees in Tanzania, but also in Zambia where their colleagues were experiencing same problems. Responding, Tazara management confirmed that that it is currently facing cash-flow challenges which have affected some of their operations. “The payment delays that the workers experience are a result of cash-flow problems, which we are confident of resolving. This has also affected the supply of fuels, resulting in the incidence of delays of the passenger trains as our regular fuel supplier refused to make any deliveries,” Tazara head of public relations Conrad Simuchile said. Although the management linked the problem of salary delays to bank transfers, it said salary payments for the month of April begun on April 8, 2011 and May 13, 2011; all the necessary transfers had been effected in both Tanzania and Zambia. However, he said the cash-flow challenges are a result of procedural time lags in the banks as funds have to be moved between Zambia and those in Tanzania. Recently, Tazara workers in Mbeya Region downed tools for three consecutive days to press for the payment of their salaries, prompting intervention by top officials from the Tanzania Railway Workers Union (TRAWU). TRAWU deputy chairman Mussa Kalala told the workers that they recently met with Transport minister Omary Nundu, and that all the worker’s claims were presented to him. Kalala said the minister promised to work on their problems including those involving former Tazara employees. He said they have given the minister until May 27 to respond to their grievances.


16 killed in Geita road crash

Sixteen people were killed and 51 others seriously injured after two passenger buses collided at Kibingo village in Geita district, Mwanza region, yesterday. One of the buses involved in the accident was heading to Bukoba from Musoma while the other was going to Bukombe in Shinyanga region from Biharamulo. Speaking to The Guardian in separate interviews, Geita district commissioner (DC) Philemoni Shelutete and District Medical Officer Dr Omary Dihenga said the accident occurred in the morning, attributing it to careless driving. The driver of one of the buses (T 268 AJC) owned by Sheraton Limited, heading to Bukombe in Shinyanga collided with another bus, christened Bunda which was heading in the opposite direction, when trying to overtake a lorry (T 823 BPV) belonging to Nyanza Bottling Ltd.

Mwanza acting regional police commander (RC) Nonosius Komba
Addressing reporters, Mwanza acting regional police commander (RC) Nonosius Komba said 12 people died on the spot and three others died at Geita district hospital where they were rushed for treatment. The other one died on the way to Bugando referral hospital. Komba said the drivers of the buses involved in the accident were in police custody for interrogation. For his part, Dr Dihenga said 11 bodies had been identified by relatives. He named them as Danny Zabron who died on the way to Bugando referral hospital, Maneno Ngassa, Mwarabu, Amani Deogratius, Samson Sanga and Msemakweli. Others are Johnson Nyonyi, Khalfan Chinga, Sumbuko Paulo, Samson and Deogratius Makunga. Dr Dihenga told this paper through the telephone that two toddlers Amina Abdallah (six weeks old) and Dickson Lazaro (one month old) survived without injury. The injured according to Dr Dihenga are Venance Nestory, Masoud Athuman, Abel Shimbo, Ibrahim Kihungwe, Mudashiri Joseph, Mabula Lusegwa, Jumanne Katoto, Zanzibar Kitangila, Enock Paulo, Mussa Kashiriri, Sele Elius, Deogratius Mathias, Fikiri Leonard, Claud Mashimba, Mchungaji Jonasi, Tupatupa and Isaya Ally. Others are Samuel Lukanye, Charles Maige, Libu Kahadi, Kimbi Bahati, Nathaniel Bernad, Masai Magembe, Emmanuel Mabala, Boniface Kitagalo (who were referred to Bugando), Joseph Mabwanga (Bugando), Tereza Tondane (Bugando) and Juma Fanuel (Bugando). He named other passengers who were injured as Christina Joseph, Imaculata Mgula, Emilian Joseph, Godnes Joseph, Veronica Lwagalo, Marietha Kalokola, Dadia Bernad, Edith Charles, Agnes Moris, Thereza Ondope, Salome Alon, Agripina Nathaniel, Gretuda Hoston, Edna Jackson, Leon, Chiza, Lulu Kishabakaki (Bugando), Forestina Magige (Bugando), Christina Joseph and Mawazo Nicolaus (Bugando).


Youngsters trained on life-dream attainment

Twenty young women from Mtwara and Iringa regions are attending a three-week seminar organized by the Tanzania Women of Achievements Awards to inspire and motivate them to realise their dreams. Speaking at the opening of the seminar yesterday in Dar es Salaam, president of the awards Irene Kiwia said her organisation had decided to organise the seminar after learning that most young women lack inspiration to achieve development. “We selected the two regions after noting that they are prone to challenges which can hinder them from realising their dreams,” she said. Kiwia said the girls - aged between 18 and 26 years – were selected after basing on their leadership qualities and on conviction that they could help in inspiring other young girls in their communities. “We selected the two regions because research from different organisations have shown that that young women from these regions are at risk of getting HIV and Aids, early pregnancy and other challenges which can make them fail to realise their dreams,” she said. Kiwia said the woman achievers would come from different backgrounds and they would play a role of monitoring other young girls’ progress for a minimum period of one year. “We have arranged women who have achieved big things in difference fields of life and each will have a young lady to inspire her and monitor her progress for a maximum period of one year,” she said. She further said as part of the seminar, the participating young women would visit the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, which among others, deals with women affairs.The seminar has been sponsored by the United States Aid for Development (Usaid), informed Kiwia.

Kisarawe district spends over Tshs. 2 billion on development projects

Kisarawe district has spent over 2bn/- on various development projects until the end of March, this year, it has been learnt. District planning officer Mustapha Sabuni said recently that the projects were financed through funds amounting to 3.1bn/- approved by the district council in the 2010/11 financial year. He explained that the projects included primary and secondary education, healthcare, water, agriculture, livestock and cooperatives, a natural resources office building and an administration block. Sabuni said over 3bn/- was received by the end of the third quarter of the financial year 2010/11. A total of 13.3bn/- was approved to be spent by the district council during the financial year 2010/11. The district planning officer said 7,478,915,173/- was spent on salaries and 2,995,026,500/- on development projects. He said the district council internal revenue was 854,480,000/-. He explained that the district council received 5,367,736,926/20 (40 per cent of the annual estimated amount until March) this year. “The money includes 3,706,103,631/16 for salaries, 1,233,579,014/65 for development projects and 344,404,000/- for other charges,” he noted. He said the projects implemented in the 2010/11 year included construction of 10 houses for district council workers, construction of the Natural Resources office building and the construction of the district executive director's office building, OPD building at Chole health centre, a 105.3-km road and construction of eight classrooms at three secondary schools in the district. The district council has in 2011/12 a budget of 14,650,169,700/- from various sources including the government, donors and internal district sources.

Trade union roots for better conditions in mining firms

The Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta) has called on the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (Osha) to appoint an official to deal specifically with issues dealing with mining companies According to Tucta, the appointed person should ensure that mining companies operate in accordance with the labour laws Tucta mentioned the current Osha as a weak body, as it lacked qualified and competent staff to deal with current issues in the labour market. Tucta secretary general Nicholaus Mgaya made the remarks on Monday when he met a Corporate and Environment Unit team from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC). His remarks came after the LHRC released a report on hazardous working conditions in mining firms such as the Geita Gold Mine (GGM). “Osha does not have capacity to deal with all issues in the workplace in the country. It is ineffective and so something should be done to avert the situation,” said Mgaya. Meanwhile, the Tucta secretary general has urged the government to make sure investors abide by labour laws. He was responding to this reporter who wanted to know whether the trade union was aware of any mining firms claiming that they only run their firms in accordance with their codes of conducts and nothing else. He said the situation might be attributed partly to government’s failure to give foreign investors a specified code of conduct which tallied with the country’s laws. According to Mgaya, 80 per cent of employees in both the private and public sector worked under harsh conditions with the remaining 20 per cent with better working conditions. “There are areas where people work because they have to. They work as if they are slaves,” said Mgaya. Besides the mining companies, he mentioned other areas in which workers worked under harsh conditions as courts of law, schools and hospitals, among others, saying some of the court buildings did not reflect the importance of the judiciary. “There are schools where teachers have no latrines and are forced to go to bushes to answer calls of nature while some government hospitals lack necessary facilities for its staff. We are very aware of it all,” said Mgaya. On May 1, this year, President Jakaya Kikwete vowed that no Tanzanian employee would be a slave in his or her own country. He said he was aware that there were some employers violating labour laws and instructed the Ministry of Labour, Youth Development and Employment to deal with them. “Labour officers should hold accountable those violating workers’ labour rights. We are aware of some labour officers who are siding with greedy employers. As much as we want to attract investors, we should not condone exploitation of our own people because doing so, is a sin,” said Kikwete. A survey conducted by the LHRC indicates that local mining labourers have no one to talk to because officials from the Ministry of Minerals and Energy and Osha embrace investors to the detriment of the local labourers. Worse still, their employers are claimed to bar them from forming trade unions, a tool which could have been helpful in fighting for their rights.

Maghufuli not budging on roadside billboards

Works Minister Dr. John Magufuli has called on local authorities responsible for issuing permits for commercial billboards to abide by the law by providing such permits for roads under their jurisdictions Magufuli made the remarks in Dar es Salaam yesterday at the opening of a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss a report on the tracking of fuel taxes organized by the Roads Fund Board He said that according to the Roads Act No 13 of 2007, a permit for installing anything, including commercial billboards, on road reserves must be issued by the responsible authority of the respective roads. He said Tanzania National Roads Agency was supposed to issue permits for installing commercial billboards on roads which it supervises Magufuli said according to statistics, Dar es Salaam alone has a total of 744 billboards within reserves of roads supervised by Tanroads, out of which 392 had their permits expired while 324 have no permits. He added that there were 31 billboards whose permits were yet to expire and the permits were issued by Ilala Municipal Council. 7 billboards had permits which expires in October this year, while permits for 24 billboards will expire in June 2012 and 10 billboards have allegedly forged permits. “This is proof that levies have been collected from illegal billboards. Meanwhile, the responsible authorities for roads under Tanroads have not earned any money in fiscal year 2008/2009,” Magufuli said. Chairman of the Dar es Commuter Bus Owners Association Sabri Mabruk said that his association has been contributing greatly to the Roads Fund Board through levies charged when they purchase fuels.