Chaos erupted at Ubungo in Dar es Salaam at dawn yesterday when police stormed the area, destroying vendors’ property as they kicked them out in an exercise meant to clear the way for road users.
City authorities say the area is not safe for anyone to stay for a long time, let alone do business because of presence of overhead high voltage wires.
Stones and tear gas canisters were employed to disperse the vendors who resisted the operation resulting in the fracas.
It developed into an open fight between the government security organs and the traders as the latter blocked the road, thus halting vehicle movement.
Police arrested 34 people in connection with chaos.
The fight started after the police in collaboration with Kinondoni auxiliary police carried their operation deeply as they removed all vendors carrying their businesses along the highways.
Recently Works minister Dr John Magufuli had instructed that vendors doing trade along road reserves should be removed because they obstructed movement by road users.
The removal exercise spread from the commuter bus station at Ubungo Mwisho, Ubungo Maji, Ubungo Mataa to Darajani area along Mandela Expressway.
Other areas that were affected include Songas power plants pavement, Tanesco Ubungo premises and along Sam Nujoma Road.
Some of the vendors were totally against the move, and decided to embark on stone throwing and blocking Mandela Expressway at Songas power plant causing traffic jam.
The police beefed up forces to ensure the vendors are sent removed from the place by bringing in the anti-riot squad who used tear gas canisters to disperse the vendors.
Speaking at the scene Kinondoni District Commissioner Jordan Rugimbana said the municipal authority will not allow vendors to conduct business in the area.
“This is not a safe place, there are high voltage wires passing overhead,” he noted.
Rugimbana said the exercise was conducted successfully as there were no causalities, adding that small traders have to relocate to special areas allocated by the municipal council.
He said the operation was scheduled to go peacefully but some few disobedient traders forced the police to use tear gas canisters to disperse them.
He said that was an ordinary operation stressed that they will not allow any vendors to turn the place into a business area any more, adding that the places will now be guarded heavily.
Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Charles Kenyela said at the scene that police are responsible for the safety of the people and properties; hence they were forced to use force to relocate the reluctant traders.
“All these things happen because some people do not want to adhere to rules and regulations put in place. You should learn to implement government orders to avoid disappointments and unnecessary troubles,” he said.
Kenyela, called on the traders to go where they have been allocated by the municipal council.
“Conducting business close to Tanesco premises is very dangerous,” he said, adding: “There is no more 6pm market in the area,” the RPC warned.
Renalda Chamba, of Tegeta in the city said it was unfair to remove the the vendors who were only engaging in some small income generating activities that are not illegal.
She said some people also used to purchase their household requirements at the areas sold relatively cheaper compared to other markets.
Kinondoni Municipal Director Fortunatus Fwema said the exercise will be sustainable as they want all traders to conduct their businesses at specific areas and not on road pavements.
Elaborating, he said that vendors were given a 14 days notice, but most of them turned it down.
“We informed them on the removal exercise some two weeks ago, but they decided to disobey the order that is why we opted to use the force,” Fwema said.
According to Fwema, the Kinondoni musicality has already set aside market places for use by vendors. He mentioned them as Makumbusho, Mburahati and Buguruni.
However some interviewed city residents said there are no adequate markets allocated for areas such as Kimara, Ubungo, University of Dar es Saalama and Mbezi.