Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why Supermarkets provides an alternative shopping mall

A supermarket is a large form of the traditional grocery store and a self service shop offering a wide variety of food and household products, organized into aisles. It is larger in size and has a wider selection than normal traditional shops selling consumer goods people used to buy. In Tanzania, since the adoption of trade liberalization policy in 1985, there has never been establishments of supermarkets until in early 2002 that the country witnessed mushrooming of supermarkets in various parts in the country mostly in cities and in big towns.  Unlike before, during the era of socialism policy, such investments were not allowed to take effect owing to political ideological barriers under which the socialist state regarded their establishments as in support of the capitalist market economy.  In other words, supermarkets have never been seen operating ever since the country attained its independence in 1961, and were first introduced in early 2002. Up to now, Dar es Salaam city is leading by having many supermarkets in the country. The mushrooming of supermarkets in the country which began to emerge a decade ago has been providing an alternative option to shoppers who in one way or another have been buying home products of various design quality and specifications needed for human consumption.  Shoppers have been getting as many goods as they can in regard to their sizes and types needed for the specific need when going shopping. With the introduction of supermarkets people are certain of buying quality products that could cater for their need irrespective of the price tags. However, thanks to the government and its decision for allowing direct foreign investments in the country. Many people think that, when going for shopping at a supermarket, they might get goods selling at a higher price rate just because of the fact that most of them are imported and well packed. But this is not the case and contrary to their imagination as all goods is sold at an affordable price just like others which are sold in normal shops. Supermarkets are highly respected by shoppers around because of the genuine goods sold there and the way products are packed that proves is less substandard. The proof of this is indicated with a specification note of an international standard organization on each imported product and this conforms to their good quality. Contrary to what is seen for the goods sold in other retail traditional selling shops in the country, a shopper might buy a commodity without knowing the country of their origin unless otherwise such commodities are marked, something that is rarely seen. You might ask yourself, is the supermarket a preferred place where you can buy quality goods and nowhere else? To a greater degree of certainty, this is true as most products sold at a supermarket are marked with the dates of their manufacturing and expiry dates. Goods ordered for supermarkets are directed to manufacturers to indicate their manufacturing dates as well as the expiry dates. The reasons behind is to make shoppers become more satisfied by their quality standards to some extent. Choosing a time and place for your food shopping can help you shop smarter as supermarkets are typically comprises of various household goods that range from consumable and non consumables. Because of the availability of such goods, shoppers find it to be a most shopping paradise that can provide all types of commodities they want. Consumable goods are such as canned meat and beans, fresh produce milk, and baked goods and many others like junk food. There are various samples along with shelf space reserved for canned and packaged goods as well as for various non-food items such as household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies.  Most supermarkets also sell a variety of other household products that are consumed regularly, such as alcohol (where permitted), medicine and clothes and some stores sell a much wider range of non-food products. The traditional supermarket occupies a large amount of floor space, usually on a single level. It is usually situated near a residential area in order to be convenient to consumers. The basic appeal is the availability of a broad selection of goods under a single roof, at relatively low prices.  Supermarkets usually allocate large budgets to advertising, typically through newspapers. They also present elaborate in-shop displays of products. The shops are usually part of corporate chains that own or control other supermarkets located nearby. Dar es Salaam city has now become a famous city not only because of the magnificent buildings which have skyscrapers, but the city has changed the life of many shoppers following the mushrooming of shopping supermarkets with the biggest and the leading Mlimani City supermarket which opened its doors in 2006. This is a large full-service supermarket in the country which is combined with a department store. Other services offered at this supermarket may include those of banking, mobile phone customer services, internet cafes and photo processing.  

Shoppers in a supermarket for shopping.

Banks operates even during weekends. Other advantages include ease of parking space that accommodates more than 500 cars at a time. There is also a petrol station which operates throughout 24 hours.  Others which provide an alternative shopping are Imalaseko supermarket which is located in downtown city centre, Shoprite supermarkets at Kariakoo and along Nyerere road are among the few well known in the city. These usually offer products at affordable prices to ordinary people.  The interior designs of most supermarkets have been built to allow free movements of shoppers who visit them and fanny enough is an extremely a very cool place, as you enter the main door you are tuned to a cool music coming from speakers placed strategically against the wall while dragging your feet through aisle which normally are arranged in single file along the corridor. Such an arrangement provides room for shoppers to walk freely while dragging along shopping carts, it also provide them with a chance to fill their carts with choices and maybe get handed a free sample while they shop. Despite the music, shopping in supermarkets is more interesting as shoppers have to choose and pick selected goods from their random positions.  Before you grab a shopping cart and head for the aisles, a shopper need not be in a hurry as they have ample time to make a wide choice of goods they want. You can go to a supermarket almost anytime you want, with the exception of other shopping malls, supermarkets operates for long hours. In Europe, some bigger ones operates throughout 24 hours. The layout of these supermarkets is designed to create a high degree of convenience to shoppers in order to make the shopping experience pleasant. This is done through the character of merchandising and product placement. There are many different ideas and theories in relation to layout and how product layout can influence the purchases made.  One theory suggests that certain products are placed together or near one another that are of a similar or complementary nature to increase the average customer spend. This strategy is used by retailers to create the so-called cross-category sales similarity. In other words, the tooth paste is placed next to or adjacent the tooth brushes and the tea and coffee are down the same isle as the sweet biscuits.  Other effective but simple store layout techniques include the milk and bread located at the rear of the store, forcing shoppers to walk through the isles and hopefully purchase another product. Additionally fruit and vegetables are placed at the front of the store to give the supermarket a fresh and healthy image. There is some debate as to the effectiveness of this tactic. To maintain a profit, supermarkets make up for the lower margins by a higher overall volume of sales, and with the sale of higher-margin items bought by the intended higher volume of shoppers.  Customers usually shop by placing their selected merchandise into shopping carts (trolleys) or baskets (self-service) and pay for the merchandise at the check-out point. At present, many supermarket chains are attempting to further reduce labour costs by shifting to self-service check-out machines, where a single employee can oversee a group of four or five machines at once, assisting multiple customers at a time. Traditional supermarkets in many countries Tanzania included face intense competition as all shoppers have to pay cash to settle their payments for the items selected and packed in trolleys. Details of the items are entered in a machine which later on gives a printout of the receipt to verify the contents purchased. At the counter, there are machines introduced by the Tanzania Revenue Authority ( TRA) the so-called the Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs) System implementation first introduced in the country in early 2011 with the aim of targeting non VAT registered Traders. According to the TRA’s commissioner for Internal Revenue Mr. Patrick Kassera the first phase of EFDs covered 13,400 traders out of 16000 which is equivalent to 93 per cent of VAT registered traders. “The second use of EFDs is cascaded to Non VAT registered Traders from March 2013. The Government through the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) introduced Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs) in the Finance Act, 2010 to replace electronic cash registers with the main aim of enhancing VAT compliance. Taxpayers are of the view that, the selected suppliers could have been well placed to ensure that all VAT registered persons are well served and EFDs installations would be in order. Major supermarket chains have string or calico bags available for sale. They are sold with announcement of environmental issues in many cases. The ones sold in supermarkets often have designs related to nature, such as prints of trees or that of the earth, in order to emphasize environmental issues. A reusable shopping bag, sometimes called bag for life, is a type of shopping bag which can be reused several times. It is often made from fabric such as canvas, woven synthetic fibers, or a thick plastic that is more durable than disposable plastic bags, allowing multiple uses. Reusable shopping bags are a kind of carrier bags which are available for sale in supermarkets and apparel shops. Reusable shopping bags require more energy to produce than common plastic shopping bags.

Monday, February 18, 2013

NICOL shareholders want former chairman leave the office

SHAREHOLDERS of the National Investment Company Limited (NICOL) yesterday pressurized their former Company’s Chairman Felix Mosha to hand over the office and other documents to the newly appointed management team. The decision by shareholders was reached in their Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in early January this year in Dar es Salaam that discussed together with other matters their internal managerial disputes which has been facing the company for the last one year. Mosha whose management ended up in March 2012 has long been refusing to hand over the office to the newly elected interim Board members after having been suspended from his position by the Capital Markets Security Authority (CMSA). Earlier, NICOL Company had a case in High Court whereby the CMS A which runs the operations at Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) accused the company for various violations of work rules that governs the operations of the trading bourse in Dar es Salaam In the  meeting, NICOL shareholders unanimously agreed on a common stand to have their former chairman axed out of the office and hand over the related office documents to the newly management team with immediate effect. However before taking an action have resolved to settle the matter amicably and in view of this, they have decided to take a preliminary step of asking their founding members to intervene as they still respect former chairman for being their fellow founder member who has been running the company’s operations since its inception in 2001. They are optimistic that their intervention would help the company solve the existing internal administrative problems associated with the development of the company on the course of their day to day’s running operations. The founding members who also attended the meeting were among them the Chairman of the IPP group of companies Dr. Reginald Mengi. Others are Arnold Kilewo, former Attorney General Judge Mark Bomani, Ambassador Paul Rupia and Ambassador Anthony Nyaki. The decision by NICOL shareholders was reached by all members together with other four resolutions reached upon by all of them that ironically aimed at finding a permanent solution besetting the internal administration of the company whose entire members see to b e facing a bleak future.

The Chairman of the Cofederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and former NICOL Chairman Felix Mosha.

NICOL members have directed the founding members to consult him (Mosha) and diligently give him a one week ultimatum to surrender the office together with other official documentation so as to leave the office space for the newly elected interim Board members who currently have no office to run the company’s businesses for the benefit of their shareholders. Elaborating on the decision reached to the shareholders, the interim Company’s Manager Kinoni Wamuza said that, failure to abide by the directives passed by their fellow members, the stubborn former chairman (Felix Mosha) would face a forceful removal of the office and if possible would be taken to court for defying the legal decision passed by their AGM. Earlier the Manager told members of the NICOL that, their company had not been performing well for the last three years, and it has made an accumulated loss of share investment of the company to the tune of Sh. 10 billion between 2007 and 2009 under the mandate of their former Chairman. Other resolutions are the shareholders have directed that a strong notice should be issued to their former Chairman for his behavior of interfering with the shareholders’ meetings which ha=s to a certain level affected the call of their meeting. They have also directed him to hand over the company’ assets in their custody before 9th February 2013 failure to which legal action should be taken against them include eviction. As far as possible the interim Manager should clear and withdraw all legal proceeding involving NICOL instituted by unauthorized persons.  The National Investments Company Limited (NICOL) is an investment company that mobilizes capital from the Tanzanian general public and invests the same in the profit making commercial enterprises. Specifically, the principal business activities involve establishing or acquiring and managing enterprises in various sectors of the economy namely manufacturing, financial services, telecommunications, agricultural, mining and in the hospitality sectors.

NICOL’s meeting clears doubts on IPP group Chairman

THE interim Board Chairman of the National Investment Company Limited (NICOL) Gideon Kaunda has cleared doubts among his fellow company’s shareholders who had a suspicion over the misuse of their company’s investment share capital. He told shareholders during an Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was held recently in Dar es Salaam that, they should do away with the allegations which they had leveled against the IPP Executive Chairman Dr. Reginald Mengi whom they thought was directly involved in the dubious purchase of a pharmaceutical company that resulted into the misuse of the company’s fund. Dr. Mengi was initially speculated by the NICOL shareholders on allegations that, he might have used his capacity as a chairperson of the investment committee within NICOL and deliberately entered into a dubious contract deal that forced the company to invest its money in an ill fated pharmaceutical industry called Inter-Chemi Pharmaceutical and Beverages Ltd based in Moshi some four years ago. The truth about the matter was vividly shown through various speeches when shareholders came to learn during the meeting session that, the former NICOL Chairman Felix Mosha is the one who spearheaded the deal himself in his capacity as a Chairman. NICOL’s interim Manager Kinoni Adam Wamunza said in an exclusive interview with this paper after the meeting that, Dr. Mengi who chaired an investment committee by then had refused to accept the proposal brought before him by the chairman as he knew the deal would not pay at all, and instead former chairman worked it by himself.

IPP Executive Chairman Dr. Reginald Mengi in discussiin with the members of the Tanzania Editor's Forum. Seated on his left is the Chairperson of the forum Absalom Kibanda.

On realizing that he had been bypassed, Dr. Mengi resigned from his position and his decision had sparked fear when he threatened to withdraw his membership. But later he made up his mind to remain as an ordinary member, he said. During the meeting sessions, the interim chairman Gideon Kaunda dismissed claims by many of his fellow shareholders who have been speculating rumors that Dr. Mengi had in one way or another involved even to prevent other members from attending the Saturday meeting. “You shouldn’t think that he is inciting in newspapers that NICOL members should not attend their AGM meeting, let us not have such a bad attitude” he told shareholders and added that, being an Executive Chairman of the IPP companies, there are some decisions to which he is not directly involved. After the remarks by the interim chairman, Dr. Mengi rose and said that, the speculations leveled against him that he has sabotaged the NICOL company had been aggravated more by one deputy minister in the cabinet whom he didn’t mention. “I am always open before my fellow Tanzanians and since I have the habit to mention those who are against me, this time let me reserve his name” Dr. Mengi told about 200 his fellow shareholders who turned in a meeting which after its end, he offered them a luncheon. Speaking in the meeting, one of the founding members and former Attorney General during the first phase government, Mark Bomani, highlighting the issue of Inter-Chemi Pharmaceutical company he has dismissed claims by some shareholders and said that is not true that Dr. Mengi instigated the deal. He has assured them of his none involvement of the matter which he said had been committed by few who had bypassed him.   However, he has condemned those who instigated other fellow members from attending the meeting for unknown reasons. He urged shareholders to be serious with the company bearing in mind the fact that, they have contributed a lot to its development up to where it is now. In view of this, he has asked fellow shareholders to accept the withdrawal of the cases which are pending in court.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

RC meets with Ilala municipal officials to solve Kariakoo clashes

THE Chairman of the Dar es Salaam regional peace and security committee Said Meck Sadiki has cautioned members of the Ilala Municipal Council militiamen to adhere to security laws as ordained in their ethical work rules and regulations. Meck Sadiki who is also the Regional Commissioner for Dar es Salaam region  voiced his concern in Dar es Salaam last week during a private meeting he held with members of Ilala militiamen (Mgambo) that lasted for two hours.  He told them that, they should adhere to their oaths which they had taken during the time of their employment as a sign of loyalty for their sensitive work, bearing in mind the fact that they are soldiers who had really devoted to work under the command of as does the military or police. The RC cautioned following widespread claims by petty traders who conducts their businesses in most restricted areas in the city that are harassed by city askaris and sometimes have their merchandise confiscated away when caught by them. “I want you to show respect instead of showing negative attitudes towards hawkers and petty traders within the city suburbs while performing your diligent duties” he said and cautioned them that, the continued habit is a violation of their work schedules and regulations. The RC also used the opportunity to resolve the recent clashes which occurred at Kariakoo area between the militiamen and members of the community police which to a certain extent has created great enmity between the two groups after failure to agree one another on the execution of their work. The clashes caused in the area had occurred after one hawker was prevented from doing business at a junction of Tandamti/Aggrey streets at Kariakoo last week in Dar es Salaam by Ilala Municipal militiamen but was later released and allowed to continue doing business by community police on patrol, an aspect that caused a mutual of misunderstanding between them.

This is what the Ilala Municipal council askaris does once they found petty traders with their merchandise along the prohibited areas doing their businesses at the city centre. They consficate their properties and sometimes disappears away with them. The act is against the law

 This situation has now caused a great enmity between the executives who currently have threatened to leave the job to community police whom they accuse of interfering with their work rules if strict measures are not imposed by the authorities concerned as a way to prevent them. Earlier, the RC held a closed door meeting with the management of the Ilala Municipal Council to which the Ilala Mayor Jerry Slaa attended to discuss the existing disparities between the two . The meeting also drew some participants of the high ranking police officers led by Dar es Salaam regional special zone police commander Suleiman Kova. The meeting in which journalists were bound for access had discussed ways on how to solve the existing disparities which exists between the municipal askaris and the volunteered community police who have been differing in their daily work execution in the pursuit of petty traders from conducting their businesses in restricted areas within the city suburbs. Sources said that, among the hot issues the RC had in discussion with the management was about what had transpired at Kariakoo area one week ago when a petty trader was arrested by militiamen conducting business in unauthorized area and later was released by community police. According to the source, the attitude could not be tolerated by the militiamen who have the audacity to clear traders at Kariakoo and the city centre respectively whereas the police duty is to maintain peace and order in the area.  The source further noted that, when the situation occurred it angered the militiamen who later resort to skirmishes that resulted into denouncing the names of the two bodies whose duties are confined within one place. Following this, the police force in Dar es Salaam region, had formed a task force committee to work out the differences existing and find the truth about the matter, the taskforce team has been working closely with the Ilala municipal council authorities for a peaceful and amicable settlement.

Forceful eviction exercise is against land laws, says a University don

A law lecturer at the School of Law of the University of Dar es Salaam has flouted the government’s move especially when it uses force to evict its people whom they found to have allegedly erected their houses on plots earmarked for future development projects elsewhere in the country. Speaking in an exclusive interview recently in Dar es Salaam, Abdon Rwegasira said that, the government does not follow the right channel which governs land law that recognizes together with other things the right of occupants and their erected structures. He says that, such structures irrespective of the way they have been erected have to be respected in regard to their value and that if pulled down to pave room for an intended project, owners have to be compensated with new ones before the actual action of eviction is ordered to take place. Elaborating into details on the aspects of humanitarian grounds about the issue he says that, the government has a tendency of issuing 45 days notice to evictees, and on expiry of such days they embark on a forceful eviction which of course the attitude is against the land law.  In protest to the government’s move, a University don defends his argument by saying that, before the government issues a notice, it must have already built houses for the victims to migrate first even before a notice is issued to them. According to him, an eviction exercise might take place where an evictee has defied the order to migrate into a newly build house which shall have been built on a newly surveyed land for his or her own reasons and this should be done upon the expiry timeframe as per the notice earlier issued. But contrary to what is being witnessed by many peace lovers in this country is when their government takes an action and orders court brokers to carry the demolition of people’s structures which is done under the strict supervision of the anti-police riot squad popularly known as Field Force Unit (FFU). Elaborating on the issue, as a lawyer specializing in land laws, Rwegasira puts forward his argument and said that, this is contrary to the laws of human rights and settlements which states clearly that, evictees have to be given a notice within 45 days to vacate when permanent structures have been build for them, and not given money as practiced in many cases in the country.

In view of this, it has come clear as an abuse of human rights as what is happening today, many families are left homeless after having been forcefully removed out of their houses upon the order of the court ruling on a pending land case in controversy giving powers to a court broker such as the Majembe Auction Mart to carry out the exercise without mercy. Rwegasira made the concern shortly after the launch of his 412 paged book titled “Land as a human right” whose major theme has been focused on the challenges of land rights and the history of land law and its practice in Tanzania.  The book to be used by law students, researchers and policy makers in the country was officially launched by the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development Professor Anna Tibaijuka in a colorful ceremony which took place at the University of Dar es Salaam Council Chamber. However, in its 9 chapters, the author has ably analyzed the sources of land problems as interplay of many factors including claims of land rights, and has challenged land law practitioners to be straightforward in respecting the rights of others and desist from listening claims of land rights outside the framework of law “We are currently witnessing a very disturbing phenomenon of disposal of prime public land to the so called investors, the bulk of whom have always been foreigners, without due regard to public interest. Public land preserved by past governments for various development projects has been disposed off under unclear circumstances”, reads a paragraph in author’s book.  He has also stated that, “What is even more worrying is that land tenure insecurity has been on the rise due to fraudulent land transactions which are being perpetrated by the very people who are supposed to ensure that such malpractices do not take place”. According to the UDSM Vice-Chancellor Professor Rwekaza Mukandara in his earlier remarks, he described the book to be among the few available publications in library at the university mlimani campus that ranks the third among the best books which talks about land laws in the country. He said, the first book that addresses land law issues and practice in Tanzania titled, “Customary land law in Tanzania, a source book (1973) was published by Professor Gamaliel Fimbo who wrote the book in 1973 and another publication titled, “Essays in land laws in Tanzania” which was also published by Professor Fimbo in 1986. According to him, the two books have been the only two publications used for references in land law today. However, he said adding that, many books have been used from outside the country for lecturing students which do not have local contents in matters related with land laws.

EA Transport Ministers discuss Isaka-Kigali-Musongati railway project study

THE Three East Africa governments of Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have reiterated their political will and commitments to hasten the success of the proposed Isaka-Kigali-Musongati construction project of a railway line which has been in discussion now for ten years without formal implementation. Transport Ministers of the three respective governments recently held a one day closed inter-ministerial meeting on the implementation progress of the railway project with a view to discuss a preliminary study on the construction of a railway line that would link their countries from Isaka railway station in Tanzania. Before their meeting started, the Ministers made the call in their key note opening addresses that, their governments have fully continued their strong commitment to the development of this project which would be beneficial to their people and  for the entire central development corridor.

Tanzania Minister for Transport Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe.

The Ministers and their countries representations in brackets are Dr. Harisson Mwakyembe (Tanzania), Alexis Nzahabwanimana (Rwanda) and Engineer Moise Bucumi (Burundi) also agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The document would bind the studies and agreements on how to go about the project to see if it’s economically viable for the development of their countries and make sure that, the project open avenues for trade and market opportunities in landlocked countries and help facilitate business within East Africa region on its completion. Tanzania’s Minister for Transport Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe said in an exclusive interview with The Guardian after the formal opening of their yesterday’s meeting that, “In this MoU, it would guide the three countries to see how they are going to put a budget of their own up to the completion of a project as each country is going to contribute its own money through a designated distance set for the construction through a respective country”.  Earlier in his key note address Dr. Mwakyembe said that, physical integration requires the connectivity of transport modal links among countries and across sub-regions. In other words, the transport Minister is on the view of the fact that, East Africa countries need to strengthen the plans of having an integrated network of railways, roads, maritime transport inland waterways and civil aviation. However, he added that, for the infrastructure to play its significance and potential in regional integration process, East Africa governments need to ensure the implementation of regional and sub regional initiatives in order to fulfill their commitments. He said that, their meeting together with other things would review the progress of the proposed upgrading of the Dar es Salaam port and new construction of over 400 kilometer stretch of Isaka-Kigali Rwanda and then to Musongati in Burundi and agree on strategic actions to be instituted by the three governments, and these he noted that would be made to general public later. In this regard he added that, governments need sustainable infrastructure systems to support economic activities and provide basic services especially for the poor people in rural vicinity, and in view of this, these infrastructures should be safe, reliable and affordable to assist land locked countries to compete in regional and international markets. The findings of the completed phase one feasibility studies were conducted by DB International from Germany (2009) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) from USA. The two firms have considered the project to be economically viable and financially feasible. In her earlier presentation to the members of a Joint Technical Monitoring Committee (JTMC) of the three countries and other invited guests, the Project Coordinator who is a Rwandan national Josephine Uweneza highlighted the first phase progress of the study and noted that, a detailed study would be completed by end of March this year. However, he thanked the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United State Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) who had assisted in the undertaking of the completed feasibility studies for the construction of the new lines as well as the upgrading of Dar es Salaam port, noting that without their contribution, the project would have not been possible.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Empower small scale farmers to end food insecurity-an expert warns

AN expert on agricultural food security has warned Tanzania government and asked the authorities concerned to take a keen interest to empower its small scale farmers as this is a strategic measure to cub with food insecurity likely to face the nation in some years to come. He says that, by empowering small scale farmers, the move would prevent regular influx of youth’s migration from rural areas to urban centres to seek for better paid jobs, and instead they would remain in rural communities to engage in farming activities. The observation was made recently in Dar es Salaam by a US Ambassador working for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies based in Rome, David Lane after having toured some parts of Tanzania rural communities to see for himself how US Government and the UN food agencies collaborate to support farmers in the country. An Envoy made a weeklong tour of the areas around Arusha ,Kilimanjaro regions  and Mkuranga District in the Southern Growth  and Agricultural corridor (SAGCOT) as part of his mission to observe how Tanzania government promotes agricultural development. The ambassador noted that despite the challenge faced by the country, investing in small holder agriculture can substantially improve foods and nutrition and help local economies to thrive. However he said that the government must set aside enough money in its budget to make a sustainable agriculture development. Lane was briefing Journalists about the development of his tour during a press conference hosted by US Embassy office in Dar es Salaam in which he commented that he was encouraged by how the UN agencies, private sector, Tanzania farmers and development partners are working together with the Tanzanian government to strengthen agriculture and improved future of the country. He said that the communities and project that he visited over the past week are proof that, despite the challenges Tanzanians are facing, investing in small holder agriculture can substantially improve food and nutrition security and help local economies thrive. “Tanzania commitment to enacting agribusiness friendly policies and increasing public spending for agricultural growth will encourage private investment as well as small scale farmers themselves and ultimately help transform Tanzania into a brad basket for the region”, he said  In the meeting there were also representatives of World Food Agencies such as World Food Program and Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) as well as representatives of the United States ‘Feed the Future Program’ team which works under the USAID development agency. On his views WFP Country Representative in Tanzania Richard Ragan emphasized that with the US government initiative towards improving food security and helping develop commercial opportunities for small share holder farmers is a top priority for WEP work in Tanzania. He is on the view of the fact that Ambassador David Lane’s visit was an opportunity for him to witness fast hand the progress Tanzanians have made in this area and added that significant work remains but so far the result are very exciting. On his part FAO Country Representative in Tanzania Diana Tempelman noted that Tanzania has enormous potential for the increasing agricultural productivity and production which is needed not only to feed its rapidly increasing urban population but also to support overall development. The Ambassador David Lane’s visit to Tanzania is an exciting moment as he accompanied by a group of journalists from Italy, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, France and Niger.  They visited a variety of projects run by the U.S. Government, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).  Ambassador David Lane was nominated by President Barack Obama on April 16, 2012, to serve as United States Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.  The United States Senate confirmed Ambassador Lane on May 24, 2012.  Mr. Lane has more than twenty years of experience working in leadership positions across sectors.  Most recently, he served in the Obama Administration as Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Chief of Staff in the White House.  During the Clinton Administration, he held key appointments including Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of Commerce and Executive Director of the National Economic Council.  Mr. Lane also worked in the United States Congress as a Legislative Assistant to former Senator Gary Hart.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

TAZARA fylying over design project set for construction

An architectural design project for Tazara fying over to be built at a junction of Tazara and Nelson Mandela road in Dar es Salaam.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tanzania signs three exchange notes with Japan

THE dream of having at least the first flyover in Tanzania which is to be built later in Dar es Salaam city appears to come true following the signing of the preliminary stage of a detailed structural design of a project between Tanzania and Japanese governments in Dar es Salaam. The two countries recently signed three Exchange of Notes under which the government of Tanzania will access grant assistance to facilitate its three projects from the Japanese government amounting to the total value of 1.552 billion Japanese Yen, which is equivalent to Tanzania shillings 28.2 billion. The Minister for Finance, Dr. William Mgimwa led Tanzania government during the signing ceremony whereas the Japanese Ambassador accredited in the country Masaki Okada led the Japanese government in this occasion which took place yesterday at the headquarter of the Ministry of Finance in Dar es Salaam. Minister Mgimwa said in his key note address that, the first project involves a detailed design worth Japanese Yen 67 million, approximately Sh. 1.26 billion which covers a flyover for the Tazara intersection where Nyerere Road crosses Nelson Mandela Road in which a double-lane flyover will be laid. This is flyover which many Tanzanians have been waiting for with anxiousness. Authorities in Japan have already approved a detailed design for the multi-billion shilling flyover project to be built at the junction of Nelson Mandela and Nyerere roads, paving way for construction works to start next year. In the second project the Japanese government under the project for improvement of transport capacity in Dar es Salaam, will make available to Tanzania government is a grant amounting to Japanese Yen 1.108 billion, approximately Sh. 20 billion to finance the expansion of Kilwa Road and Harbour road intersection to Gerezani area which will bring a significant impact to infrastructure improvement. He further noted that, the expansion of Kilwa Road will contribute to alleviate the existing traffic jams and a widened road and Gerezani bridge which will most certainly have a positive effect on the economic development of the city of Dar es Salaam and therefore facilitate entry and exit from the harbor. This project will cover a 1.3 Km section of Gerezani road and Bandari road between Kamata and Kilwa intersections, and the construction of the Gerezani bridge where a double-lane road will be laid out. The Chief representative of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at Tanzania office Yukihinde Katsuta who are the coordinators of the project, said the latest news of approval of the project’s design by the Japanese is a great relief to most Tanzanians, who see it as one of the major and focused interventions to reduce the critical problem of congestion on Dar es Salaam roads. Hopes are high that the combination of these projects would supplement government programs aimed at decongesting Dar es Salaam roads, thus facilitate fast movement of goods and services, thereby improving business-related sectors and stimulating growth and development. Besides the Tazara flyover, JICA is also supporting a similar project at the Kamata junction, including widening the 1.3-kilometre stretch between the Kamata junction and Kilwa road to dual carriageway one of the strategic interventions which are expected to ease traffic movement between the southern part of Tanzania and Dar es Salaam. Elaborating about the two above projects, Dr. Mgimwa said that, the objectives of the two road projects are to ease and alleviate the existing traffic congestion and therefore improve services in the city of Dar es Salaam. In turn, this will lead to economic efficiency resulting from stimulation and increase of business activities. The third project of an exchange note Dr. Mgimwa said is a grant assistance of the Japanese Yen 380 million (Or Sh. 6.92 billion) to finance the implementation of the food security project for underprivileged farmers respectively. Elaborating on the third project, Dr. Mgimwa noted that, the grant aid will enable Tanzania to procure agricultural inputs to increase food production, thereby contributing to stable food security in the country. He said that, the grant is to support the initiative of Kilimo Kwanza through the food security project for underprivileged farmers. This support is very much in line with the country’s initiatives to promote the program whose aim is to improve food production in the country. He further noted into details that, the special focus of this project on marginalized farmers makes the project very important, particularly for poverty reduction. He has however assured the Japanese government that, given the importance of the three projects Tanzania will make every effort to ensure that all projects are implemented successfully. Highlighting the exchange of notes on the two road infrastructures after the signing, Japanese Ambassador accredited in the country, Masaki Akada said that with the completion of the planned construction of the new double lane flyover with walkway and service road will become easier in the city. He said however that, traveling time between the city centre and Airport, a distance of 11 kilometers, should be decreased from the current approximately 37 minutes to around 25 minutes. However, he noted that, a 1.3 Km section of Gerezani road and Bandari road between the Kamata and Kilwa intersections and the reconstruction of Gerezani bridge where a double lane will be laid out will help lessen the existing traffic jams which will most certainly have a positive effect on the economic development. With the completion of the planned construction work, the rush hour traveling time between Kamata and Kilwa intersections should be greatly decreased from the current 2 hours to less than half an hour. During the 2012/13 fiscal year, the government has set aside money in its budget for the preparation of the construction of the flyovers in the country as a preliminary step to curb with the increased traffic jam in the city of Dar es Salaam. Winding up a debate in Parliament in July last year, the Minister for Works Dr. John Magufuli presented his budget estimates for the ministry that tuned to a total of Sh. 899.063 billion, but the money to be set aside for this year alone would be Sh. Sh37.578 billion which is equivalent to 4.17 percent of the total use. He said that, all feeder roads in Dar es Salaam will be upgraded at a cost of about Sh34.2 billion to contain traffic congestion that costs the economy up to Sh 4 billion daily. However, he added that, some of these have already been upgraded to tarmac level. Transport stakeholders in the country say a loss of Sh4 billion is incurred everyday from traffic jams in Dar es Salaam as workers are forced to spend many hours on their way to workplaces. Further, environmental pollution by motor vehicles causes diseases, such as cancer, which cost huge sums of money to treat. The annual loss of Sh1.4 trillion from traffic jams is larger than the 2009/10 budget of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development amounting to Sh208.7 billion.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fistula, a dangerous disease causing misery among women

MANY women in Tanzania continue to suffer severely from fistula disease that is caused as a result of severe child birth complications. The majorities of these women prefers to remain silent and are unable to disclose their sufferings for fear of being stigmatized by close family members. For the last 15 years, Bhoke Chacha a resident of Kemange village in Tarime district, Mara region lived in loneliness after having been abandoned by her husband when she encountered with fistula and lacked special medical attention. She is 45 years old and has had been undergone for operation three times in order to prevent the situation but to no avail. Currently Bhoke is among few women who are receiving free medical treatment on fistula disease being offered by the Dar es Salaam based Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) disability hospital. Narrating her ordeal, she says that, she overcame with a fistula disease when she had given birth to a child who has died already. However, when she heard about the services at CCBRT hospital, she couldn't believe that her condition could be treated. She travelled all the way from Tarime and was treated.  “I saw how big my baby was and when I delivered, it tore me apart and when it came out, urine started to leak continuously” she said adding that, the urine kept on coming out whenever she laughed or sneeze. However, she is now happy with the gradual recovery after receiving good treatment offered at the hospital. Rebecca Amos (30) a mother of three children, recently lamented that she slept at night on wet beddings at her home village of Minigo which is located on the shores of Lake Victoria in Shirati location, Rorya district in Mara region.  She says during the day her family members and other people in the community made her a laughing stock as she was leaking urine and spreading a bad smell an aspect that she sometimes feels herself to have been stigmatized.  She stays alone rather in a solitude state and abandoned as well as being humiliated for no any cause by her entire family members and more seriously is when her husband left her in the house and decided to go and sleep with his second wife. This is the sad testimony of Rebecca Amos who recently spoke to the writer of this news when visited in a village two months ago. According to her, she has developed a hole, which professional doctors called it a fistula that had occurred after a difficult childbirth.  Fistula is a gap that develops between the bladder and the vagina, or between the bladder and the rectum, after obstructed labour or intense sexual violence. Women who survive such traumatic experiences will go on to continuously leak urine or stool unless the damage is repaired. During her pregnancy just like other women, Rebecca recalls, she used to walk the long distance from her home in remote rural area to the nearest health facility located at Shirati main shopping centre to attend a clinic and later on managed to give birth though with some difficulties. She felt some kind of abdominal pain that after a medical checkup results showed some signs of a developed fistula with internal organs that had been formed abnormally and surgically created in the body. After having come across the situation, clinical attendants gave her an advice to see the highly professionally trained doctors at a district hospital.


Doctors in operation to save the life of a fistula patient in a designated hospital.

"The health workers told me I should undergo for a medical checkup at a district hospital," she said. In a weak condition and on bad dilapidated roads she was transferred to Tarime district hospital the nearest and miraculously survived the struggle along with her baby as she felt the conveniences of potholes on the way. However, it was until after a check up that she realized she had obstetric fistula. When she began leaking bodily fluids, the health workers gave her pills to take, which did nothing to stop the leaking or repair the fistula. However, she later came into contact with a clinical officer trained in fistula and eventually underwent surgery. However, although she has ever heard of the free medical treatment services being offered by a Dar based CCBRT hospital, she often wonder how to get into contacts with the authorities of the hospital concerned in order to be included among the beneficiaries to receive such an assistance. Being financially squeezed, however, her mind is currently occupied by lots of thoughts including how she could travel all the way from Tarime to Dar es Salaam city at least to enjoy the free medical treatment services being offered by the hospital to its patients in the country including transport fare. CCBRT disability hospital as it is known by many is one of the largest hospitals in Africa and the leading in the country which is specialized in the treatment of fistula cases since 2002 and is continuing to expand everyday. For the last one year, the hospital has treated over 1,000 women with fistula cases through its program campaign dubbed, “MOYO” which is being teamed up together with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and financed by Vodafone aid foundation. A total of $ 10 million (Sh. 1.6 billion) has so far been contributed by Vodafone employees and partners to help facilitate the campaign with a view to help tackle new born deaths as well as major maternal health issues including obstetric fistula which needs strategic approach to get it eliminated by 2016.  In the meantime, Vodafone through its M-Pesa technology has eased referral system within CCBRT allowing the hospital to transfer transport costs to patients in rural Tanzania who cannot afford the treatment. Statistics made available by the hospital shows that, an average of 38 fistula surgeries are carried out every day at the hospital. According to CCBRT’s Chief Executive, Erwin Telemans, the Vodacom donations means his hospital can continue to provide fistula surgery, patient transport and rehabilitative services free of charge in the entire country. He says the hospital has their ambassadors scattered in various regions within the country who receives information about women with fistula and upon getting such reports, they send transportation money via M-Pesa technology in order to enable patients travel to Dar for specialized treatment. Currently CCBRT hospital is able to accommodate 70 patients per day as opposed to 9 patients it was able to accommodate in the past, and with the increased number, couple by increased skills and knowledge, the hospital has made a significant impact to the good progress achieved in the eradication of obstetric fistula in the country. According to Dr. Robert Malenga, an expert on fistulas disease at CCRRT hospital, fistulas are abnormal connections between different tissues or organs in the body and usually occur as a result of child births complications that causes injuries to women in areas around the genitals and anus (known as the perineum).  The four main types of fistulas are categorized as follows; there is enterocutaneous which is from the intestine to the skin resulting from the complication of surgery. It can be described as a passageway that progresses from the intestine to the surgery site and then to the skin. Entero-enteric or Enterocolic, this type involves the large or small intestine. Entero-vaginal is a fistula that goes to the vagina. Entero-vesicular is a type of a fistula which goes to the bladder. These fistulas may result in frequent urinary tract infections, or the passage of gas from the urethra during urination. Symptoms of fistulas can include pain, fever, tenderness, itching, and generally feeling poorly. The fistula may also drain pus or a foul-smelling discharge. These symptoms vary based on the severity and location of the fistula. Many women suffer fistula in solitude and shame, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that more than 2 million women live with it in the developing world, with more than 50,000 new cases each year.  Fistula is common in communities where women are married at a young age and give birth before their bodies are ready. Lack of financial resources and the persisting gender inequalities continues to ravage the societies in terms of social and cultural norms in sub-Saharan Africa.

The agonizing story of the public transport in the city of Dar es Salaam

IT is a miserable story when somebody describes the mode of public transport in the city of Dar es Salaam, you might be surprised to hear how it looks like, the types of commuter buses and how drivers operates with some of them not in possession of the valid driving licenses. The operation generally is very chaotic and unsafe beyond one’s imagination and the most disturbing thing of it all is that, it’s inconvenienced by traffic jam and this is happening almost within the main city roads, more notoriously during morning and evening picking hours. The persisting situation has become a critical agony which continues to haunt commuters most of whom low income earners whose movements largely depends on this mode of public transport. It is not strange at a bus stage to see a commuter bus slowly rolling in its wake of a disturbing trail of exhaust fumes, while in a slow motion you could see passengers gearing up for the inevitable clash for seats and space inside. As the bus stops what follows is a battle of wills as those in the outside tries to squeeze to find their way through every available opening and sometimes making it impossible for those trapped inside to get off. Pushing and jostling among the crowded passengers is the order of the day and nobody could be heard complaining about it, and funny enough the doorway proves to be narrow as the weary passengers struggles to pass through to scramble for spaces inside. The situation at the moment creates a commotion that paves the way for pick pockets and petty thieves around to work their magic. Those who manage to get on board settle for the trip and those who haven’t are left waiting for the next bus to come. It’s very shaming as one might sometimes be obstructed by large crowds of people scrambling to get into a bus, you might as well be pulled away and a man may elbow you out of the way so that he could get on the bus first. This is how it happens during morning and evening pick hours. Ironically the passengers themselves don’t seem to mind the inconveniences as they 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 a overcrowded bus, you will only make it worse if you attempt to castigate the person who has done it. Otherwise you will be subjected to scorn to the effect that someone might say if you didn’t want to be stepped on, “then you could have just hired a taxi or bought your own car”. The irritated people are always told of such scornful words. 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? It’s astonishing also to notice that, as the bus is coming in a slow motion as if to stop to make a U turn, all of a sudden the driver speeds away leaving the stranded passengers in their mouth open wondering why it is so. The driver never let anyone on board may be for fear of school children who happens to be in large numbers at the bus stage. The running away simply means that, the bus operators are shunning away from students who they do not want to board their busses owing to the fact that, they pay smaller amount of the fare and yet to make it worse are many at the bus stop. The reason given by them is more fictitious other than running away from students. On seeing what the driver has done, people who are used to such harassments are running along with it looking at the conductor who peers back at them through the window while the door is closed. People are panting as they keep on running here and there like a marathon race. Others gives up, disgusted, still a number of people runs after the bus for some distance until it stopped. With self congratulatory smile on their sweaty faces, they watched as the door is opened. But before the first person could set a foot on the bus the conductor declares that the bus was not going anywhere. What is it? The outraged mob at the door cries out and a conductor answers, “We are going to the garage.” Or sometimes you might hear them saying that, the bus has been caught by the traffic police. Sometimes you might manage to get into a bus to commute to work and never know where a delay might pop up. It could be a traffic policeman on the road who allows more traffic cars from one direction flow more than the recommended time, a faulty engine on an aged bus, Presidential motorcade and elsewhere is also a growing menace or anything related to it. A traffic police officer may stop the bus for some other reasons basically known to him. But you can’t blame for they are simply doing his job. However, on the course of dong so, he or she will cause a delay for minutes at a time. Often the delay takes the form of routine checks that these officers of the law carry out. The officer will stop the daladala and circle it, then jotting down things on the notebook for further reference and then calls a driver beside for private talks. Apart from such normal harassments facing commuters in the city, there is a growing habit which has been formed by some operators. This is shortening their routes a situation that forces many commuters to pay their fares twice or thrice as much as for the single trip journey. Juliana Mshombe (20), a lady who works as a house maid for somebody at Masaki residential area in Kinondoni district, Dar es Salaam region, used to experience a myriad of hardships when boarding a daladala commuter bus in the morning in order to rush to her work place, But the situation changes in the evening when getting back home after a whole day’s work. She has to spend almost about Sh. 1,200 instead of Sh. 500 for a single trip journey paid as a normal fare from her home at Mbagala Rangi tatu suburb to Masaki. Unlike in the morning pick hours, the situation changes and becomes worse during evening pick hours. This is mainly due to fewer but disorganized trend of daladala operations which is so alarming in the city at such unlikely time of a cool evening which is characterized by chaotic operations. This situation is largely contributed by illegal habit being practiced by few daladala operators who have developed a chronic tendency of shortening their routes in some suburbs within the city of Dar es Salaam and tend to indiscriminately increasing the transport fare during night hours. The perpetrators do such a malpractice on the pretext to cover their operational costs and use such an opportunity after seeing a multitude of passengers who at that time gathers at bus stage waiting for transport to take them to their various respective places of domiciles. 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 current fare noting that is too little to run the operational costs.

Traffic jam in Dar es Salaam city, Tanzania

This is an abuse of rule of law which culminates to the denial of human rights especially when innocent passengers are forced under certain circumstances to pay twice or thrice by connecting their journeys contrary to the normal fare which has been imposed by Surface and Marine Transport Authority (SUMATRA). Interviewed drivers who practices such habit complains that, citing together with other factors, the high operational costs such as fuel which is being hiked now and then an aspect that has contributed a lot to the miserable conditions facing most city commuters. Although the growing situation is quite intolerable and a weary task indeed, but is a normal practice for others but not Sofia Mshelela a resident of Gongo la Mboto in Ilala municipality who has to wake up everyday at dawn in order to avoid inconveniences which occurs. Although she wakes up much earlier, still she has to connect her journey in order to arrive at her work place Mikocheni industrial area 30 kilometers away from her home. The journey which normally takes 45 minutes’ drive, have to spend more than two to three hours on the road due to the increased traffic jam which has become unavoidable situation in the city of Dar es Salaam during such hours. She has to dig deeper into her pockets in order to afford the long trip journey that forces her to pay twice or thrice as much as the normal fare rate introduced by the government. This situation is aggravated by notorious habit commonly being practiced by commuter bus operators by shortening their routes. 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 SUMATRA to continue witnessing the increasing level of disorders in the sector. Cornered for comment, SUMATRA’s Public Affairs Manager, David Mziray who admitted being aware of such violations, said his institution usually penalizes the offenders and sometimes take legal actions and among the penalties imposed to them is to revoke the driver’s licenses if found notorious of such malpractice. According to Dar es Salaam police traffic Chief, Mohammed Mpinga, his force is doing all it can in order to curb the vice. But due to few police traffic deployed on the road, and coupled by timeframe for which most daladala violates the rules, it has been difficulty to control the situation. 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, but despite of this great number unless commuter buses with bigger capacity have to be brought in order to ease an area that is more congested says Mwanaidi Kivuyo, a Dar city based lawyer. According to her, without making such an arrangement earlier the city would continue experiencing transport problem and the operations will continue causing huge delays for people who travel to and from the city suburbs. For the past 20 years the government has been debating expanding Dar es Salaam’s city roads and railway network but finally approved a plan in July during Parliamentary budget sessions of this year after having discovered that, workers spend four to six hours a day commuting to and from work. Further environmental pollution by motor vehicles causes diseases such as cancer, which costs huge sums of money to treat are among other factors discovered to be a menace caused during traffic jam. A loss of Sh. 4 billion is incurred everyday as workers are forced to spend many hours on the road on their way to work places. With the grandiose Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (Dart) system still under construction and a long way off, it is a blessing that the concerned authorities in the Ministry of Transport in the country has officially made a commendable job to make use of the existing railway infrastructure so as to ease transport problems in the city. Granted, the railway network is not that extensive in Dar es Salaam, but it could be a good start in efforts to ease commuter problems and congestion in the city says the transport Minister in charge Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe. The introduction of railway commuter services in Dar es Salaam city would have the double advantage of providing Dar es Salaam residents with an additional transport system and earning struggling Tanzania Railways Limited much-needed cash. According to the Deputy Minister for Transport, Charles Tizeba reasons for introducing city train is to reduce the increased traffic jam in the city of Dar es Salaam a situation which occurs during pick hours. In a move to ease traffic jam in Dar es Salaam city, the government has set aside Sh. 580 billion for a road project which will involve construction of flyovers at major highway junctions later in the city. The Minister for Works, John Pombe Maghufuli said recently during parliamentary debates that, the importance of the project could be overemphasized.

What stakeholders say about the surging national debt

ECONOMIC experts and other development stakeholders in the country have allayed public fears over the surging national debt saying that, there was nothing good or bad with the debt if the government took the loans and invested in various development projects that leads to economic stability. Speaking in an exclusive interview in different times this week in Dar es Salaam, they have noted that, if the government took the loan for consumptive expenditure which could not give a return to compensate the expense of national productive capacity, then that could lead to economic instability. “Taking loans is not a problem but to have an extravagant use of the money loaned is when the country might get into troubles” says Dr. Cyril Chami, former Minister for Trade and Industries adding that, in order to boost economy the government must invest in sustainable projects which are economically viable. Dr. Cyril who is an economist by profession is on the view of the fact that, as much as the nation continues borrowing money from outside financial sources, it has to make sure that it invests sustainably in projects which in return could enable the government earns money to pay the loan back. “If the borrowed monies have been invested in development expenditures the worries should be reduced compared to a scenario in which they are invested in recurrent expenditures’, he said. The former is expenditure on things like social and economic infrastructure that are likely to last long and be enjoyed by at least the next generation. The latter is investment on things like wages, salaries and consumables that do not benefit the coming generations as such. He targeted areas of investment potentials as infrastructure in roads, railways and energy sectors noting that, these are the key areas of economic development. However, he said that, the cheap availability of energy such as electricity would help boost industrial production whereas roads and railways would facilitate the communication and transportation of finished goods. Commenting over the matter, John Cheyo, an MP for Bariadi East under the ticket of UDP party has described a national debt on two aspects. He said that, the internal debt always disturbs national budget as there are numerous ministerial operational costs which are not recorded properly and on time, and instead these emerge later when the budget is passed. After that, it becomes difficult to find a possible solution unless the government has to borrow money to cover the gap. In view of this, he suggests that every ministry should list down own debts of the previous year prior to the preparations of the budget sessions in order to know how much has to be paid. According to him, the increased national debt often leads to economic instability in the country and this trend largely depends on the poor administration, a situation which he noted would lead the government to collapse if immediate measures are not taken to avoid the impending situation. “If it is necessary to borrow the money to cater for transportation infrastructure, energy, education and health so as to place a firm foundation of the economy”, he said adding that, this would later facilitate economic dynamism which helps the government to collect more revenues. However, he is on the view of the fact that, the government as a whole should change a mindset and direct the loaned money for investments where it think that is economically viable in terms of tax collection and where the infrastructures of the area concerned would stimulate all means of productions. “The national debt will only make sense if the money that is borrowed and thereby causing the swelling is used strategically”, he said adding that, part of the strategy would have been to use more of the borrowed money for development rather than for recurrent expenditure.  Other worries on the swelling national debt include its sustainability. One wonders whether the country is able to pay when debt obligations mature. There are many and far-reaching negative implications if the country defaults on its debt obligations.

Former Minmister for Trade and Industries Dr. Cyril Chami.

Cornered for comment, an MP for Kigoma North constituency on CHADEMA ticket, who is also chairman of the Parliamentary Parastatal Organizations Accounts Committee (POAC), Zitto Kabwe, on Wednesday this week reiterated his call over the national debt and told The Guardian in an exclusive interview that, it’s upon the government to review its accounting transactions to verify their authenticity. “I have been calling for a special audit work to overlook at the matter but it’s very disappointing to note that, the Ministry of Finance has done nothing”, he said adding that, the national debt is a serious matter for it seems that, the government is spending more than what it earns. However, he noted that, giving an example of this year’s budget whereby the government estimates amounted to Sh. 15 trillions, the government set aside Sh. 1.9 trillion to repay its debt as this is the largest item which has to be given first priority followed by other things such as education, construction, health and other social facilities. However, the Minister for Finance, Dr. William Mgimwa was on Wednesday this week countered as saying that, the country was still creditworthy and that the country’s borrowing was still within acceptable matrices internationally. According to him, the levels of budget expenditure as well as domestic and external borrowing were at required levels according to conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “So far there are no signals to worry about for both external and domestic debts as all these comply with the IFM conditions that the government agreed upon. Making a justification he said that, Tanzania’s external debt stock stood at $ 10.59 billion as at the end of November 2012. This is an increase of $ 89.9 million and $ 582.1 million are the amount recorded at the end of the preceding month and corresponding period in 2011 respectively according to Bank of Tanzania. Borrowing is caused by the fact that expenditure is far more than revenues. In order to fill the revenue gap, the government has to borrow and therefore national debt becomes a normal matter as the goods and services are provided to the people.  However, the cause of the fiscal deficit is what makes it necessary to borrow include low revenue collection for various genuine and none-genuine reasons. The national debt is also caused by bad expenditure of the collected revenues A fortnight ago, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs), known as Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development (TCDD) warned the government over the rapid increase of national debt which it said threatened the national economic stability. According to the NGO, the current national debt now stands at Sh., 22 trillion out of which the external debt stood at $ 10.5 billion (15.9 trillion) and internal debt is $ 3.2 billion (5.1 trillion). The NGO claimed that it was no longer sustainable. The surging of the national debt means that, is likely to cause damage on the development. It means that since Tanzania has a population of 44.9 million people this means that, in average proportions every citizen in the country is owned to approximately Sh. 500,000. TCDD Executive Director Hebron Mwakaganda noted that the internal debt was increasing rapidly because the government has started borrowing from local commercial banks which changed higher interest rates all for paying salaries.

Pinda challenges Tanzania business people to seek for outside investments

PRIME Minister Mizengo Pinda has thrown a challenge to Tanzania business community wishing them to open up avenues for their business products outside the country so as to get an acclaim of international status, just the same way as foreigners does here in Tanzania. The Premier gave the concern in Dar es Salaam recently at the occasion of the launching ceremony of the first ever BEKO Grunding showroom, the leading Turkish home appliance showroom in Tanzania which has opened its doors to potential buyers of such products in the country. He said that it’s high time for Tanzania local business companies to open showrooms for Tanzania products, and added that, by help of the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Marketing and Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA) in collaboration with Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) all of which can give guidance to businessmen to establish areas of interest. In his earlier speech, the Premier has assured Tanzanians that, the opening of BEKO showroom in the country is a strong sign of the continuously intensifying commercial and economic relations between the government of Tanzania and that one of Turkey. “Tanzania considers Turkey as one of its trading partner as the two countries have enhanced strong ties  with new trade and investment which currently is growing considerably” he said adding that more than seven bilateral agreements are in place forming the basis for cooperation. One of the agreements the premier noted include agreement on trade cooperation which the two countries have already signed. The trade and economic relations between the two countries was given impetus by the strong political will of both sides which was concretized by an exchange of visits at the highest level in 2009 and 2010 respectively when Presidents Abdullah Gul of Turkey and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania met resulting into the re-establishment of Turkish Embassy office in Dar es Salaam. He noted that, the building relations is coming up with the bilateral trade volume nearing $ 200 million, hiking off from $ 30 million just within 8 years’ time since 2004 and added that, the two countries are aiming further to promote bilateral development concepts. The decision to have a showroom was initiated in collaboration with the Chairman of Modern Holdings (EA) Ltd, Anselm Minja, the company which is the sole distributor of BEKO grunding products in Tanzania and East Africa region. BEKO Grunding company is one of the top Turkish home Electronics producers and part of the Turkish giant companies which has worldwide prominence. It accounts for about 11 percent of the total exports of Turkey in 2011.          

Tanzania's Prime Minister Mr. Mizengo Pinda.

It is also a top quality brand in home appliances which produces world class goods in its 14 production plants in five different countries. In Tanzania the company has started with home appliances and electrical goods like fridges, cookers, air conditioners, heaters, Television sets, computers and many others. But soon the company expects to advance to other more equipment than home appliances. Elaborating the existing trade bilateral relations with the Turkish government, he said that, Turkey’s exports to Tanzania in 2011 were $ 170.7 million compared to $ 89.3 million in 2010. The top export categories for 2011 were Iron and Steel, Petroleum products and related materials, Manufactures of metals, Paperboards and articles of paper pulp. On the other side of Tanzania, he elaborated that Tanzania’s exports to Turkey reached $ 21.7 million in 2011, this is an increased of 52.0 percent compared to $ 14.3 million in 2010. The top five export categories the Premier mentioned for 2011 were, Tobacco and tobacco manufacturers, Transport equipment, Crude animals and vegetable materials, Textile yarn, Fabrics made up articles and related products. He also noted that, the trade surplus of goods with Turkey was $ 148.9 million in 2011, this is almost 50 percent increase from $ 75.3 million in 2010.   “Tanzania is determined to develop her bilateral relations with Turkish government in every field for investments in a range of areas which includes, agribusiness, infrastructure, energy, horticulture and extraction and processing of iron” he said urging Turkish investors to invest in all these areas for their choice. He has also called upon Turkish companies to open more showrooms for Turkish products in Tanzania not only in Dar e Salaam city, but also in cities like Arusha, Mwanza, Mbeya and Dodoma. However, he said adding that, Tanzania is still having challenges facing trade sector in general. He clarified such challenges that includes clearing of goods at Tanzania Port Authority (TPA), Taxation issues under Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and many others, but as a government, his office is striving very hard to remove the impeding obstacles as well as to make sure that, the government creates a conducive working environment to all investors doing business in the country.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A bank customer in distraught over smartcard skimming

DESPITE of the additional security features which were recently placed to guard the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) owned by several banks in the country, customers still complain of the loss of their money believed to have been withdrawn from their bank account without their consent. The features earlier introduced by the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) is to provide more security measures that would help protect bank customers from having their money stolen through ATM machines.  These includes a shield that protects the keypad on the ATM as they are designed to help conceal the user’s hand from the angle of the camera positioned in ATM cubicles and from other customers. Bankers believe that during pin entry which is a secret code is inserted at the time the customer wants to draw money it is important to shield the keypad of the ATM as a security measure. ATM is a computerized device that enables clients to make transactions without the need for a bank teller. Despite of the presence of these features, Hafidh Yahya Ally (26) a bank customer in one of the foreign banks operating in the country (name withheld) is lamenting after having found his money has been stolen from his bank account one week ago. He said in an exclusive interview recently that, he had his money withdrawn by unknown person, the sum of over Sh. 1 million from his account when he went to the bank for withdrawing. Speaking in a telephone interview he noted that, on the very fateful day, he traveled all the way from Dodoma where he is currently residing to Dar es Salaam city where the bank is located, and on his arrival only to find out from the service counter of the bank that, his money had been withdrawn a week ago. On realizing this, distraught young Hafidh notified the bank to enquire for the clarification and when the bank printed a financial statement that showed a transaction, it was discovered that, his money had been traced through ATM machine by unknown person from the Republic of Bulgaria a country located in Eastern Europe.  However, as a result of this, Hafidh has been told by the bank officials to wait within 45 days as the bank is doing investigations in collaboration with ATM electronic machine experts and once this is over would be informed of what shall transpire later on. Sources from the bank who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the incident in a telephone interview and noted that, were working on the issue and added that, there are about 73 related cases  which the bank is currently investigating to establish the whereabouts of the stolen money from their respective customers’ accounts.

A typical Automated Tellere Machine used by banks.

Investigations carried out by this paper reveals that, despite the presence of the security measures in most operating ATM machines which the banks proved to be effective enough to disclose ATM thieves, bank customers continue loosing their money in a mysterious circumstances  a situation which has created suspicion among customers over few untrustworthy bank staff that might be colluding with people from outside. ATM theft commonly known as card skimming is a critical problem facing a number of banks in the country especially in Dar es Salaam and it was creating a burden for the banks since they were forced to refund customers the stolen money. Unconfirmed reports from financial experts indicate that the banks have lost about Sh. 800 million in compensation to affected customers. Following the increased rate at which theft is growing there was a need to conduct thorough research to establish techniques used to steal money from the ATMs and what should be done to address the problem says a cabinet minister. Suggesting ways to ensure customers’ safety, the Finance Minister Dr. William Ngimwa said in a telephone interview on Wednesday this week that, as the magnitude of the problem is growing rampantly, banks must establish strong mechanism to beef up internal security as there might be untrustworthy workers who keeps on tracing confidential reports of their customers from within and disclose them. Dr. Ngimwa was contacted for comments over the matter so as to see what the government is doing to help cease ATM theft from escalating, and in his reply he noted that, the banks are entirely responsible with the matter and that he was not ready to comment any more what had transpired. He also noted that, on the part of bank customers they should not whatsoever disclose their secret pin codes to their relatives as people are not trusted. He said and added that, his ministry cannot intervene with bank operations unless he receives orders from the main financial regulator in the country, the BOT on what to do with the matter.

JK outlines projects for Mtwara, Lindi

President Jakaya Kikwete has outlined projects to be implemented in Mtwara and Lindi regions, saying residents of the two regions don’t need to panic and wreck havoc. He mentioned projects to be implemented as including power station, Mtwara and Lindi Ports, fertilizer and cement factories, roads projects, gas processing plant as well as some education programmes. In his end-of the month address to the nation the president was forced to speak at length on the development projects in the regions to appease the anger of southerners following incidents of chaos that culminated in deaths and destruction of property worth billions of shillings. The residents of the two regions are demanding a fair share from gas proceeds. They are protesting against the government decision to build a gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam to boost power generation as well as other uses. In his speech yesterday President Kikwete said only 16 per cent of the gas extracted in Mtwara would be ferried to Dar es Saalam via the gas pipe line while the remaining 84 per cent would remain in Mtwara for various uses, including exportation. He also notes that, it is not true that, his government does not pay attention nor having an interest to develop southern regions. Secondly that his government’s intention to construct a gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam does not deny an opportunity for southern regions to benefit from the discovered natural gas. He said plans are underway for the expansion of Mtwara port so that it might be able to serve the need of gas exploration at the sea, and also it should be in a position to serve various economic development related gas activities in the region. After he had negotiated with gas drilling companies and had realized there was a need to have Mtwara port expanded and rebuilt later to serve the purpose. He said adding that, the port authorities assured him of the implementation as directly ordered. In order to facilitate the move, the President has assured that, already there is an areas which has been added to facilitate the expansion program from hectares of land from 70.68 to 2,693.68. He further clarified that, there is also another free space for the Dangote company and those for other gas companies currently doing exploration. Either he said there is a process of expansion of the current port which would involve the construction of new gate to another area of Msanga Mkuu which is in various stage of preparations and implementation. On the side of Lindi region the President noted that plans by his government to expand its port side has developed tremendously, quoting Deputy Minister for Transport Dr. Charles Tizeba to have confirmed the ongoing progress of the project at the port as well as that of Kilwa both of which are in good progress. He also noted that, in Lindi one of the companies which had discovered gas at the sea have decided to build the port and a centre for purifying gas and later to be transported out in other regions as it in Mtwara region. On the side of the cement processing plant which is expected to be built by Dangote company had asked for an area more than what it had acquired. Their views was that, an added area had better good raw material to be used for the manufacturing of cement, and in view of this, they had to wait to get full ownership. On the side of Fertilizer processing plant, many investors have emerged since 2008 up to now. There has been a process of scrutinizing better investors with good qualifications thatbwould be recogniosed. Two things have delayed the whole process to start. The President noted that, one is the investors and the Artumas company whicgh had entered into partnership with the National Petroleum Development Cooperation (TPDC) by then which had failed on contractual terms on the purchase of the gas. Investors wanted the price of the gas to be reduced for them, but the Artumas and TPDC companies were not ready to reduce the intended price more than what they had already reduced, which the investors still had seen was not enough to run the production of required fertilizer. Another reason cited was on the financial constraint following the global economic collapse in 2008/2009 whereby the Artumnas company was affected and as a result of this was forced to sell all its shares to another investor. Either he said that was not ready to allow anybody in his government to repudiate the needs of the people of the Lindi and Mtwara and other southern regions as it would not be fair to do so for the national interest. Instead the President has reminded them to take time to remind their causal responsibility to enlighten the public on matters.

President Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania

Earlier on the Minister for Energy and Minerals Professor Sospeter Muhongo said yesterday in Dar es Salaam that, the government has insisted that its plan to construct a gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam remains intact, urging residents from Lindi and Mtwara regions to remain calm. The call by the government comes amid complaints by those residents in the regions who want to change the government’s plans which is inevitable as it’s already contracted. He said the agreement will remain the same as well as the planned dates for the commencement of the project. Professor Muhongo told a press conference that, “the construction of gas pipeline project will be built as it was planned earlier and added that, Tanzanians are to remain calm at this time as the government is finalizing the logistics to end the perennial problem of electricity in the country. However, he also noted that, the construction of a detailed designed project once it starts will be built in such away that it will enable residents of the two regions to use the gas without any resistance, and added that, their worries about the matter creates problems for nothing. According to Professor Muhongo, $ 1.22 billion for pipeline construction which is loan from china with interest rate of 1.5 per cent will be paid for the period of 20 years after grace period of seven years. He further noted that when the construction starts, no citizen who will be relocated from their position as per the earlier feasibility study carried shows that, the pipelines would be laid systematically without interactions. Speaking in the same press conference the Chinese Ambassador accredited into the country Lu Yuoqing said their goals are to turn the gas natural resource that Tanzania is blessed with in order to benefit the welfare of the people in the country. Elaborating over the issue from the economic point of view, he said that gas is a crucial commodity that would increase the national market economy which in turn will increase the national economic growth. He said that, the construction of the gas pipeline to Kinyerezi on the outskirts of the Dar es Salaam city will enable industries in the city get electricity to run their processing manufacturing plants, hence creating the wealth of the nation. “Transferring natural gas from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam will bring many business activities along the pipeline for the whole period the pipeline will be under construction”, he said adding that, local people in two regions will have an opportunity to create favorable environment for investment and by doing that will create job opportunity for the local people. The Ambassador also noted that the gas project will not only transform the country into a great economy but will also help to maintain good relationship between Tanzania and China as the friendship of the two countries started long time since independence. In another development, the Government of China has sponsored scholarship to Tanzania students to study matters related to gas energy in China at Energy University in China. The Ambassador noted that, in his country there are many Universities which are very strong in technology about energy and gas. He said his country has welcomed the first batch of 20 students from Tanzania in this academic year to engage in study areas of energy and minerals. The sponsorship will include tuition fee, allowance and all expenses that will be covered by Chinese government. In response to the study issue, the Minister of Energy Professor Muhongo countered the Ambassador’s remark and said that the requirement for students will be released by the Ministry to the public next week. He has however encouraged students to come to the Ministry to engage for the competition of which the name of the winner will be released to the general public in April this year. He added that for those student intending for masters program are required not to be older than 35 years and for PHD not elder that 40 years in order to get admission.