Some years back, government ministries and a number of public institutions, signed documents committing themselves to improved services to the public.
Known as client service charters, the documents laid out strategies to foster timely delivery of service with improved quality to support the larger effort of improving the economy.
The documents, many signed with great fanfare, gave the public hope that there would be change not only in the way the services were being delivered, but also the time it took to deliver them.
One such charter drawn up by the Prime Minister’s Office states clearly: “We commit to giving you quality services by providing clear, accurate, and timely information and advice; consulting widely before making decisions, being effective and efficient in the delivery of our services.”
The charter continues:”[We will] monitor our performance and look for ways to improve our services; act honestly, ethically and professionally; be polite, courteous and helpful; communicate clearly and in plain language.”
“[We will] endeavor to achieve the highest standard in the work we do;
apply relevant legislation, policy, and procedures impartially and consistently, and respond to correspondence promptly and handle telephone and personal inquiries immediately. If a complete response is not practical within the timeframe, you will be told when and by whom it will be provided.”
Broadly then the client service charters were aimed at changing the way the larger public was served.
Sadly some of the institutions which signed the charters have failed to live up to their commitments of ensuring that the documents became living proof better service to the public.
The other day, transport minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe was forced to remind the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) to look into complaints by passengers over humiliating treatment at airports during inspections.
He reminded them to follow rules and regulations when executing their duties, adding that a number of passengers and airline staffs using both the Julius Nyerere International Airport and other airports in the country have complained that they are humiliated by security officers’ in-charge during the inspections.
Said Dr Mwakyembe: “While strengthening security at the airports…you should also work on grievances raised by clients so as to improve service delivery as determined in the international civil navigation standards.”
Sadly TAA is not alone in deficiencies in service delivery. The reminder should be taken as a wake-up call by most public institutions, which signed those documents, but have fallen far short of the stated objectives and targets.
We commend those who have tried hard to meet the commitments in their charters, but also note with disappointment that others have hardly tried.
Thus the mismanagement and waste uncovered by the CAG, clearly showing that there is a huge gap between stated commitments and practice. The public cannot be efficiently served where resources are mismanaged and wasted with impunity.
The charters are about discipline, diligence, efficiency, courtesy and honesty in the delivery of public services. How many can stand up and vouch having achieved these?
We believe that there is need for serious postmortems on why some institutions have fallen so short on their written promises.