Vendors who previously conducted their business in Ubungo area in Dar es Salaam, in collaboration with their legislator, John Mnyika, have issued a three-day ultimatum to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) to provide them with a temporary market while waiting for a permanent one.
Police stormed the area on Tuesday, destroying the vendors’ property and wares as they kicked them out of the area which city authorities describe as unsafe for anyone to stay for a long time because of the presence of overhead high voltage wires.
Addressing hundreds of vendors yesterday at the Ubungo ward office along Morogoro Highway in the city, Mnyika said the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, through Tanesco, had to bear the responsibility of looking for an alternative market for the vendors since it had engineered and supervised the eviction.
“It is true that the area is unsafe, but we want the traders provided with alternative markets while waiting for the construction of a permanent one,” said Mnyika.
The lawmaker said Tanesco had to issue a statement on the matter within three days, otherwise he would join the vendors in a match to Tanesco offices.
He said the city authorities should ensure that the temporary market was constructed within the Ubungo area, adding that it wasn’t fair for the vendors from Ubungo to be moved to Mburahati, Shekilango, Makumbusho and Mabibo markets.
Mnyika said the main cause of the problem was poor city planning and supervision because the city fathers would have prevented the traders from the area long before things come to a head.
According to Mnyika, there were several places left undeveloped within his constituency which could be temporarily used as marketplaces, adding that the markets to which the Kinondoni municipal authorities were forcing the evicted vendors to go were fully occupied.
“There are about 150,000 petty traders in Dar es Salaam, with 3,000 of them being at Ubungo. The number is too big to be relocated to the available district markets. We need a separate one for the Ubungo vendors,” he said.
Mnyika said that even the Machinga complex could not accommodate 150,000 traders since its capacity was only 4,000 traders.
Ubungo ward councillor Boniface Jacob blamed the government for conducting the eviction operation at dawn and without involving civic leaders in the area.
Jacob said Kinondoni municipal authorities had conducted several planning meetings with the police and Tanesco without involving them, charging that this was aimed at weakening them politically.
“We are ready to provide financial support to the vendors to enable them find a plot for the construction of a market within Ubungo area,” said Jacob.
Chairman of the vendors' association Rambo Mswaki asked the municipal council to allow them continue doing business in the former area while waiting for preparation of the new market. He said the vendors were ready to contribute money to facilitate the market's construction, but on condition that it would be located within the Ubungo area.
A vendor, Stella Mbuba, said last January the government assured them that they would continue conducting business in the area until an alternative market for them was ready. She said the vendors had bank loans which they are supposed to repay on a weekly basis.
Another vendor, Anna Peter, said some of them had been conducting business in the area for over 10 years.
“If the area is dangerous for people to stay for a long period, how come Tanesco and Songas staff spend the whole day in their offices? Are traders the only ones prone to the danger?" she wondered.
Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Charles Kenyela said they were now discussing whether or not to allow newspaper vendors to continue with their business, though the aim was to evict all the traders in the area.
Kenyela said they were going to clean up the area which was previously used as a market.
However, Tanesco Managing Director William Mhando said there were many places where the vendors could run their businesses.
"The government has already earmarked places for them," he said.
According to Mnyika, in 2009 Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said that the traders should be allowed to continue with their business until they were provided with alternative markets.
Mnyika said that in October 17th, 2010 when addressing a rally in Dar es Salaam, President Jakaya Kikwete said the government had acquired a 100bn/- loan from the Chinese government for the construction of five Mchinga Complex-type blocks in different places in the country, but none of them had been built.