Police are planning to cut the number of roadblocks on the highway from Dar es Salaam to Rusumo in Kagera Region – from 54 to 14 “to start with”.
Traffic Police Commander Mohamed Mpinga told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the move is part of a more comprehensive strategy meant to ensure “faster but safer transportation of cargo on all major roads in Tanzania”.
“We are determined to see the transportation of freight on all major roads in our country take less time, become less costly and get much safer than is the case until now,” he noted.
He added that the idea is for trucks moving cargo to be inspected at no more than two “specially designated roadblocks in each region they traverse, with at most five police officers from various departments stationed at each checkpoint”.
Commander Mpinga named the roadblocks as: National Stadium Weighbridge for Dar es Salaam Region, Kibaha Weighbridge (Coast), Mikese Weighbridge and Dumila Tanzania Revenue Authority Office (Morogoro), Pandambili and Nala Weighbridge (Dodoma), Njuki and Misigiri Weighbridge (Singida), Igunga and Nzega (Tabora), Mwendakulima and Ushirombo Weighbridge (Shinyanga), and Nyakanazi and Nyakahura Weighbridge (Kagera).
“After a vehicle is inspected at one station there will be no need to stop it for re-inspection before it reaches the next station, unless there is an emergency,” he said, noting that road patrols by police would be enhanced to ensure the safety of drivers “in all project areas”.
Elaborating, Mpinga said implementation of the project would help disabuse the public of the widespread belief that most road blocks were installed merely to perpetrate bribery and other forms of corruption among police and other public servants.
“We want to emphasise that, as an institution, Police will not entertain any of its officials or any other persons bent on turning road barriers into sources of income. This is because doing so is illegal and tarnish the image of law-enforcement organs and the government generally,” he added.
He said police have begun educating and sensitising truck and other drivers on their rights and obligations during police checks.
He further revealed that police officers implementing the project would be provided with modern surveillance and tracking equipment for easier and faster communications from one point to another, adding: “The gadgets will enable them to detect vehicles that will have undergone inspection so that they are allowed to move on without being subjected to further checks.”
Investment Climate Facility for Africa CEO Omari Issa was meanwhile quoted as saying doing away with unnecessary roadblocks would ease movement of trucks and other vehicles from Tanzania to neighbouring countries, “thus making Tanzania fast become a true hub of East African trade”.
“There are more than 50 roadblocks on the Dar es Salaam to Rusumo route, which is a mere 1,200 kilometres. If you are to make Tanzania the regional trade hub, all these should be removed,” he said.
A December 2009 to February 2010 survey by the NGO Uwazi-Twaweza on three main trucking routes – Dar es Salaam-Mbeya, Dar es Salaam-Singida and Dar es Salaam-Arusha – showed that in almost 90 per cent of cases involving police checks of trucks a bribe was paid.
Out of 216 stops recorded, 104 were on police orders, 57 were at weighbridges, and the rest were due to vehicle breakdowns or meant to enable drivers have a rest.