Jambo for the coming week, and in the last one, we left our ‘Bagamoyo boy’ president Kikwete gaining his place in the history books, as the only president of Tanzania to bring to an end mob killings under the guise of ‘justice’……..Well actually we didn’t, but I wrote the fake history to that effect, as it’s what he could have aspired too before he left office, and it’s given me another chance to mention my anti ‘mob murder’ campaign today.
O.K. let’s be a bit topical now. “A rose by any other name….is still a rose”, so William Shakespeare famously wrote. It’s a quote that comes to mind, on hearing the respective P.R. people or spokesmen from Dawasco and Tanesco, vigorously denying that their organisations are indulging in rationing etc., when their ‘product’ is not forthcoming on a regular basis. D. …..”No, who says so, it’s not rationing, just a broken pipe blah blah”.
T. …..” The five hour black out was a technical fault caused by rains, and we strongly refute that it’s load shedding, there’ll be none of that ever… blah blah”.
With all the other major misdeeds these companies have to contend with, it’s a mystery why this particular accusation bothers them so much. And of course they’ve missed the point, which is, to borrow Shakespeares analogy, that rationing or load shedding by any other name still means NO ELECTRCITY OR WATER…….so we don’t care what it’s called, how they describe it, or what catastrophes cause it, we just want them to stop doing it.
Since the latest round of denials from these beleagured public utilities, in the wastelands of Mbezi beach where I stay, both water and electricity have gone off/on with the usual regularity, though Tanesco has been the worst offender. So the repeated message for Tanzania’s own William, Minister for Energy and Minerals William Ngeleja, is still “Power rationing, by any other name…without the power, is still rationing!”.
Set against International Water Day on Thursday 22nd March, and Maji Week ending on the 23rd, whilst a deluge of rain caused flooding in some areas, in others, bucket carrying residents foraged for the scarce liquid, amid press reports of an acute water shortage due to a broken pipe. Of which the relevant Deputy Minister said, “In overcoming the problem, the government has started repairing pipes and the pumping system at Lower Ruvu”. Good….problem ‘overcome’… but only till the next time, a sticking plaster solution.
In May l998, Dar residents were without water for over nine days, watching as combined civil and military forces attempted to repair a large water pipe. And questions were asked, if one pipe can cause such problems, what hope is there for really big national emergencies, to be tackled rapidly or effectively in future.
This has been the on-going scenario over the years, and whether privatised or public, operational problems have remained the same.
And why would they not, since under the last three phase governments, we’ve been told, ‘the infrastructure is old and needs replacing”, an interchangeable statement for both the water and energy sector. Therefore with worn out transformers ….and worn out water pipes etc., isn’t sporadic service and break-down the logical and expected outcome......until sensible prioritisation……..is prioritised?.
If we recall recent water service history in Tanzania, the government had been forced into privatisation of this sector through loan arrangements with the World Bank, under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries agreement, (HIPIC).
Biwater, a World Bank funded British firm, and the parent company City Water Services, were operating in Tanzania after Dawasa handed over to them in 2003, but their services were terminated in 2005 because of poor performance.
Just as Dar dwellers knew that electricity services hadn’t improved under the South African Net Group Solutions, yet tariffs had increased, an Action Aid report at the time, said that water provision in the capital had deteriorated, with overcharging for the service.
Questioning the whole privatisation process, they asked why big money was spent on right wing ‘think tanks’ like the Adam Smith Institute, which received l.3 million dollars, to undertake a public awareness campaign, extolling the virtues of privatisation in Tanzania. A staggeringly high amount for persuasion!.
That public utilities, like energy and water should remain under state control is mostly accepted, but despite their ultimate failure, the temporary tenure of Steve van Stadens Net Group Solutions, achieved something not common under public ownership, namely successful debt collection.
In 2003, they said they needed to collect 80bn/- in electricity arrears from various customers, and l8b/- from Zanzibar, to finance rehabilitation. The exercise proved successful, and the public learnt that some prime defaulters had been the police, the army and the State House.
Conversely, under government auspices, an audit committee finding in December 2009, revealed that outgoing Tanesco boss Idris Rashidi, authorised a spending spree on luxury cars and swimming pools for top managers houses. Shockingly, this was whilst the bankrupt corporation struggled to pay its bills.
Time to close….but what’s the moral of this complex play in the energy sectors. Well it could be that citizens shouldn’t be influenced by l.3 million dollars worth of western propaganda, if they could recognise it as such of course. And come the next ‘celebratory’ water day in areas without any, locals should lightly pelt officials involved with rotten tomatoes etc., or the few that can afford them of course!