Sunday, June 1, 2014

Key players call for more awareness on HIV/Aids

Education on HIV/Aids should be strengthened through exposing the existence of sub-Saharan and Western viruses, and how long they last without affecting the infected person. This would be a departure from the current one, described as ‘very partial’ because it is based on disease transmission methods and ways forward, according to Council HIV/Aids Coordinator (CHAC) with Kisarawe District, Rehema Mwiki. She said knowledge on virus types and classes in each will strengthen awareness on how people living with HIV/Aids (PLWHIV) can avoid new transmissions, adding that once a person is affected by sub-Saharan viruses and in absence of new infections, it might take about 15 to 30 years before they fall to serious illness. As for the Western virus type, she added: “It might take above 50 years before she/he seriously gets in bed once there are no new transmissions.” As for the current HIV/Aids education, she said she herself had acquired the knowledge from experts of HIV/Aids through indoor seminars she attended.  Mwiki was speaking last week in Same District at a gathering to impart knowledge to PLWHIV, where HIV/Aids infected people from Kisarawe District, toured the district to gain experience on renewable energy technology. On HIV/Aids, she said due to people’s intermingling, there have been incidents of virus exchanging throughout the world, and insisted on condom uses as mitigation. The chairman of the National Council of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NACOPHA) in Kisarawe, Erick Haule, who confirmed he has been a carrier of HIV virus since 2002 but never has he been bed-ridden because of the disease Haule said:  “I managed to speak various international languages which provided me an opportunity of working in different hotels as receptionist and sometimes a supervisor. “I succeeded to capture a sponsor for International Relations studies in North Virginia, America but it wasn’t my lack since I had diagnosed of HIV in 2002,” he added. The tour of Same has been organized by Tanzania Grassroots Oriented Development (TAGRODE) aimed at the introduction of renewable energy project in Kisarawe in which the NGO wanted PLWHIV in the district to learn practically. According to TAGRODE coordinator, Dicksson Mwalubandu, the initiative involves traditional stoves uses, focused on elimination of forests. “The PLWHIV group leaders are taught on tree seedlings wherein each beneficiary should practice tree planting exercises, hence, forests nourishment,” clarified Mwalubandu. Same and Mwanga Environmental Conservation Advisory Organization (SMECAO) which hosted the tour, had succeeded in disseminating the technology to about 85 percent in district, according to its Managing Director, Sammuel Massawe.

No reclaim of UDA shares, says CEO

The Group Chairman of the Simon Group Ltd holding the majority shares of the Dar es Salaam City Transport Company known by its Kiswahili acronym ‘UDA’ or Usafiri Dar es Salaam, Robert Kisena has refuted claims that his company bought the shares at a throw away price. Such claims were raised by Members of Parliament early this week when contributing the budget estimates for the Ministry of Transport in the on-going national budget debate sessions for 2014/15 fiscal year. The MPs alleged that, the investors had bought the company’s shares at a cheapest price rates which were sold at Sh. 145/- each instead of Sh. 1,600/- as slated by the government according to KPMG a consulting accounting firm contracted to evaluate the shares.  Kisena clarified the issue last week in a telephone interview when contacted with a view to get the authenticity of the controversy surrounding the transaction and confirmed that his firm bought the shares at Sh. 1,620/- each. He added that since his company bought the shares in 2009 it had acquired 76.7 per cent stake with 20 buses, but now four years down the lane they are operating with over 500 fleet of buses.  He further noted that, since then they had entered an agreement with the government and both sides settled down their operation in a peaceful manner. “We do not have a problem with the government, those raising claims about the shares are mere speculation which should not be entertained at all” he said adding that if there is any problem on the transaction they could raise such claims since then, he queried. However, he said that, does it sound in mind to look for the authenticity by now and yet when the UDA shares were acquired by his company it had only 20 fleet of buses operating in the city, and now are boasting of having over 500 buses operating in the city. On Monday last week, MPs demanded that the government has a reason to reclaim its shares in UDA that it had sold to Simon Group Company and sell them at higher prices to recoup the resultant loss and end the controversy surrounding the transaction. 

CEO of the Simon Group Ltd, Mr. Robert Kisena

Nzega legislator, Dr Hamis Kigwangala (CCM) said there has been a lot of hearsay regarding the possession of UDA shares but the government is yet to provide adequate answers. However, he suggested that UDA management should buy back the shares at a proposed market price. For his part, Kasulu legislator, Moses Machali (NCCR - Mageuzi) blamed officials who allowed the shares of the transport company to be sold at a throw-away price. “If the Dar es Salaam City Council sold its shares to the investors who is to blame? We have to allow them to operate and serve people in the area,” he said. Murtaza Mangungu, Kilwa North legislator (CCM) said the transaction of UDA shares is still marred by complications and suggested that, the government should compensate the investors and reclaim the shares then start a new procedure to sell them to the public. Freeman Mbowe, Hai Legislator (Chadema) said there have been contradicting statements from government officials regarding the sale of UDA shares. “This is a shame to the government. Attempting to clarify the matter, minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs) William Lukuvi said the issue of UDA has been forwarded to the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for further investigation. He said PCCB has been tasked to confirm the authenticity of the transaction of the shares between government officials and the investors. In May 2012, the then chairman of Board of Directors of Uda, Mr Iddi Simba, was charged with eight counts, including forgery, and abuse of office that caused over Sh2.4 billion loss to the transport company. Mr Simba, a former Cabinet minister, was charged along with two Uda senior officials.

Deputy Finance minister Adam Malima told Parliament last week that Uda was still jointly owned by DCC and the government through TR. He stated the government’s position when responding to a question by Ms Halima Mdee (Kawe-Chadema), who wanted to know who the owners of Uda were and their stakes in the company. In December 2013, the Local Authorities Accounts (LAAC) committee of the National Assembly deplored the sale of shares of the Dar es Salaam Transport Company to Simon Group, a city trading firm. Committee chairman John Lwanji (Manyoni West-CCM) said when tabling the committee’s annual implementation report for 2013 and note4d that, the sale was a grave mistake as it did not consider national interests at all. The committee received a joint report on the implementation of the sale and entire operations of UDA Company for scrutiny, upon which the committee discovered that the government cannot do anything to save the company as it was sold via laid down rules of  tendering procedures. “What is painful over the sale is that it was done as in accordance with the law setting up the company, and that the Board of Directors was fully involved,” he said and added that, the allotted shares were sold at a throw away price if the property had no owner.

Sound sleep eludes most Dar residents, says MNH specialist

Naturally, all human beings should have an uninterrupted night sleep of eight hours – and work for eight hours a day; anything beyond that means you’re less productive, a Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) specialist has said. The biological clock requires that humans should sleep all night, and that sleep during the day and work at night cannot bring the same quality of product, and that any interruption of the biological clock means insufficient production. Biologically, the human body is driven by the sun, active during the day because the quality of sleep during the day is not of the same as night sleep. A mental health specialist and head of department of psychiatry at MNH, Dr Frank Masao, says that in order to be healthy and productive, human beings need to work 40 hours a week (five days), and spend the rest of the time for leisure. In an exclusive interview in Dar es Salaam mid this week, Dr Frank Masao told the Guardian on Sunday that most people suffer from poor attention and concentration is poor when a person works works more than eight hours. As a result, the quality of their work suffers. Lack of quality sleep also results in poor judgment from low attention to detail as well as headache.   When people decide to sleep during the day and work at night, the natural biological clock does not bring the same quality of productive work. “You cannot have deep sleep during the day … and the quality of work done at night is different from that we do during the day,” Dr Masao says. Due to pressure of work, some people are forced to work at night without sleep … or just catch nap while at work during the night … this results in professional hazards at work,” he says, arguing that the quality of work from people who work night shifts was lower than the same work performed during the day. He said times had since changed; not long ago, it was possible to sleep for eight hours, work for eight hours, but this wasn’t possible these days … because of many factors, including traffic jams. He also attributed most traffic accidents to ‘work without sleep.’ Grayson Mtalemwa, a public servant living in Mbezi, said he couldn’t afford sleeping for eight hours because he spends six hours on the road due to traffic jams. “I used to wake up at 4:30 am to get public transport to the city centre where my offices are located … my typical day starts at 5:00 am … we are soon met with grinding strong traffic jams along the way to the Ubungo traffic lights … we spend almost one hour to ge through those traffic light.” he explains. There’s yet another gridlock at Magomeni Usalama, where you need more than half an hour to negotiate your way over there; then another one awaits at the Fire Station. Overall, it takes up to three hours to get to my office – the same time needed to get back home. I spend more than an hour waiting for transport at the ‘Posta’ station, which is heavily congested during the evening; my journey home takes a good three hours – between 06:00pm and 09:00 pm – after which I eat and wash, and usually go to sleep between 10:30pm - 05:00am. Lino Kiriho, a businessman at Kariakoo who lives at Tegete, complains that he spends more than three hours from his home to his work place. He said he once used ‘boda boda’ commuter services to get to town, but these have since been restricted to doing business in the suburbs only – and with that stroke of restriction, his eight-hour date with night sleep has been permanently interrupted.

Water sector benefits little from allocated funds

While there is increase in the budget for Tanzania water sector it has been revealed that a fraction of the amount is actually spent on water projects. The observation was made yesterday in Dar es Salaam during the monthly breakfast debate on ‘the national budget 2014/15: what are the emerging issues in the water and health sector?’ which was organized by Policy Forum. Namwaka Mwaikinda, Director of Policy at Water Aid Tanzania, said the review shows lack of technical audits, and little money disbursed is spent properly. Making a presentation titled ‘more money for water: fiction or fact’ Mwaikinda mentioned donor dependency, delay in disbursement and low release as three weaknesses the sector is facing. On the same topic other stakeholders said there is money in water sector, stating that existing challenges are not a matter of insufficient funds. Rather, the money is not used appropriately for lack of implementation. One of them Audrea Moser said besides implementation the sector needs to have realistic input figures. Others noted that even if the sector got money at the right time the problem would persist because not all the allocated money goes to the sector as planned. Casmir Mabina from Comco Clean Energy Consultant said: “Donor dependant budget is not a problem but the implementers even if they get adequate money, small amounts of allocated money is actually put to proper use while the rest goes where we cannot trace”. On his part Saqware Naniyo a Forum Stakeholder explained that there is big difference between the allocated and used funds. Saqware recommended the only solution is to put to establish strong mechanism to ensure the allocated funds should tally the amount used. Additionally, the sector lacks effective monitoring. The forum also debated issues emerging in the health sector with regard to present and future trends of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare presented by the Frorian Schweitze, Health Governance and Finance Department of SIKIKA. Schweitzer expressed disappointment, saying in the government priority areas, the health sector is missing unlike energy and natural gas, agriculture, water, education, transport and mobilization of resources. Schweitzer recommended the government should recognize the need for provision of essential medicines and medical supplies as basic human right to be progressively realized. However, another forum member Casmir Mabina said the priority in Big Result Now (BRN) queried why the health sector is not given priority. On her part Magdalena Mathias said there is mi sense in increasing budget allocation in the health sector annually if the poor people do not access the service.

Why is Tanesco doing this?

WHILE the Ministry of Energy and Minerals complains of the shortage of the operating, some of workers working in Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) are selling the free power given by the company to them as a motivation. According to investigation it is revealed that some officials in the electricity company are misusing the motivation given by distributing such electricity as their source of income. Tanesco workers are given Units 750 per month for Sh.8000 whereas some of the officials are generating their income ranging from Sh. 20,000 to Sh 30,000 to everyone who is connected with such electricity. According to the information released by an official in the company, detailed that it is strictly prohibited for any worker given the free electricity to supply it and in case such worker will be identified he/she will be cancelled from getting the service.He said “company rules and regulation strictly prohibit all workers to sell or distribute such electricity to either his/her tenants at all” A spot survey in some parts of the city like Mwananyamala, there is a Tanesco official who used to sell such electricity to his workers for a long time. Our source who preferred to be anonymity said that if you are looking for electricity from such an official it depends on how many units you want but the minimum price is Sh. 30,000. Furthermore, he added “we are used to this situation and if you have little money you will end up purchasing few units, and if you will emphasize on the receipt you might be in trouble of not getting electricity at all or being told to go and purchase in another place. Meanwhile, the survey discovered also that at Kipungini B kwa Mkolemba street there is an official from Tanesco who is also selling the selling the electricity given by the company. That official is selling such power to about 80 tenants at his commercial complex and residential estates in the Area at Sh 20,000 monthly to each tenant regardless of how much units you consume contrary to the rules and regulations of the firm. One among the tenants who also preferred anonymity said, the land lord is one of the TANESCO high office bearers but they were yet to establish whether he was offered the utility as office incentive all they know is their responsibility of paying electricity bills to the boss. “Myself I don’t know whether TANESCO workers are given free power at all, but we are paying the bill every month and it is Sh. 20,000 per month.  Tanesco staffs are estimated at a hefty bureaucracy of 5,000 and they are purchasing power at a nominal Sh.6.90 per unit. At that rate the company could pay Paltry Sh.6, 313.50 for 759 units instead of the commercial rate of Sh 206,901.02 which other consumers are paying. In other language, the firm is losing Sh287, 940.20 in free power every month from each of its 5,000 staff. Apart from other colossal running costs the staff cannot use the free power at their disposal a huge waste which would have gone to serve other public servants.