3 June 2012

Tanzania: Abandoned Quarries Pose Danger

The residents of Kisewe in Temeke district have expressed serious concern on the dangers posed by large scale sand digging in the area.

According to the sources, a sand quarry that used to belong to Kioo Limited Company, was recently abandoned after it became water logged following the recent heavy rains. "The diggers have now shifted to another nearby site and we are worried that it will lead to serious land degradation, including soil erosion," said a group of residents who spoke to this newspaper.

They also complained that they were not getting anything from the revenue collected. "We are also worried that the abandoned site which is full of water poses serious danger to our children during their normal play," said a parent who lives close to the site.

A survey by the "Sunday News" shows that several areas on the outskirts of the city of Dar es Salaam including Chanika, Tegeta and many other peripheral areas face the same problem, where local leaders have encouraged sand quarrying to generate income, which often does not benefit the residents.

According to the residents of the visited areas when they saw these activities going on, they called for a meeting with their chairmen to discuss the matter, but no action was taken. The councillor for Chamazi, Mr John Gama, said that two years ago the Municipal Council had issued permits for sand quarrying but revoked them after realizing the damage to the environment.

"There were many people intruding in the area to collect sand, which was degrading the environment which could not be controlled, hence the need to revoke the permits," he added. Speaking on the latest action taken by the Temeke Municipal Council authorities, Mr Gama said that just two days ago the council militias were cracking down on soil excavators who had invaded Chamazi area.

"We are also working very closely with the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) to address the issue of soil excavation and reverse the damage left by the pits," he said. Sources further said that during the meeting the Chairman of Mbande, Chamazi Ward, Mr Hamisi Shomvi was tasked by the residents to account for the revenue generated by various activities in the area.

When contacted some residents who preferred not to be named told the 'Sunday News' that the area has a lot of activities including soil excavation and selling of plots demanding that the revenue collected should benefit the residents. The Chairman told the meeting that the activities had only generated 800,000/- for the whole year, said the source. But many residents have disputed the amount, saying it was not realistic.

"We know that a truck of sand costs up to 120,000/- and the chairman charges 10 per cent for every trip collected," said a concerned resident. The concerned resident further said that the minimum price for a plot that land owners sell is 2.5m/- and the chairman collects 10 per cent of the value. The residents claim that plots worth millions have been sold but the commission in form of revenue is not on record.

The residents have also pointed out that they have lost confidence in their leader. "He is not cooperative and does not bother to attend the funerals and other social gatherings," they claimed. Some residents claim that if the chairman is summoned for a business transaction even if it is taking place at midnight he will attend forthwith.

They had already reported their concerns to the CCM Temeke District office, they added. "We have asked the CCM leadership to investigate the matter and find a replacement for us," said one of the CCM members. Clarifying the matter, Mr Shomvi said he was not surprised to hear all those allegations against him. He added that there must be some people out there who do not like him and he cannot satisfy everyone in the area.

"I want to make it clear that the soil excavation activities had stopped long ago in my area, I have no authority to interfere in the neighbourhood. "The area which is now being used by the diggers is not under my jurisdiction, but a neighbouring local government street, he said.

He explained that his area has so far generated about 750,000/- which is in their bank account. He said that through such revenue, Mbande residents have been able to construct their own office. So far the construction has cost 500,000/-. He agreed the abandoned sand quarry posed danger to people and their livestock and said they will try to fence it off.

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