Zanzibar — MEMBERS of the Zanzibar House of Representatives have complained about poor working conditions and payment to reporters, especially in the public media.
"Lack of transport, working facilities, delays and meagre payments to journalists are issues that the government should strive to solve as soon as possible," legislators pointed out on Thursday while debating the 8.9bn/- budget proposal for the Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism and Sports.
Mr Hamza Hassan Juma (CCM-Kwamtipura), Ms Asha Bakar Makame (CCM-Women), and Ms Mwanajuma Faki Mdachi (CUF-Women) said many reporters work under difficult environment and yet they are poorly paid.
Hamza argued that since information is power and it is people's right, media owners including the government should make sure reporters and all media workers are well paid to avoid corruption.
Moving the motion for debate and approval, the Minister for Information, Culture, Tourism and Sports, Mr Said Ali Mbarouk, informed legislators that lack of funds was a big challenge in developing the media sector.
He said that in the 2012/2013 year, his ministry plans to improve the welfare of its workers including journalists, purchase working tools and improve the state journalism training college as the Islands shift towards digital technology.
Mbarouk also asked for support from people including lawmakers in promoting tourism, which is the leading economical activity, contributing over 80 per cent to the Islands' GDP.
Controversial Iranian oil tankers' management reallocates
THE Acting Director for Zanzibar Maritime Transport Authority, Mr Abdallah Hussein Kombo, said on Thursday that owners of 11 Iranian Oil tankers allegedly reflagged, in Tanzania, to dodge EU and US sanctions are shifting the management of the ships from Iran to another country.
"The owners of the ship are from Europe, but the management is from Iran. The owners are now in the process to shift the management from Iran to avoid conflicts with the western states," Kombo said adding that so far Zanzibar has registered 400 ships, many from abroad including the questionable tankers.
It was alleged last month that Zanzibar had registered about 10 Iranian oil tankers, but authorities in Zanzibar and union government downplayed the issue saying there was no evidence as they appealed for help from EU and US in probing the issue. The US and the European Union have tightened sanctions on Iran over concerns about its nuclear programme.
Meanwhile, in an effort to reinforce marine transport laws, authorities in Zanzibar yesterday banned four vessels from operating. The ban comes 10 days after a fatal boat accident which killed at least 116.
"Mv Seagull, Mv Kalama, and Mv Sepideh have been de-registered and are not allowed to operate in Zanzibar territory, while Mv Kilimajaro III has been temporarily stopped due to expiry of life raft," said Kombo at a press conference.
Kombo said that his office is now working closely with Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) from Tanzania Mainland to inspect all vessels in Zanzibar so that only seaworthy ferries are allowed to operate.
"Kilimanjaro III will resume services after improving its sea survival facilities," he added. He said that Mv Seagull and Mv Kalama, sister to the fatal Mv Skagit, and Mv Sepideh have been deleted from the list of Zanzibar sea vessels "because the boats are dilapidated and have had frequent breakdowns."
Kombo informed journalists that Mv Serengeti, which has also had repeatedly experienced mechanical faults in the sea, is still under investigation and that under the period of scrutiny the boat is "allowed to carry 350 passengers and 50 tonnes of cargo less its capacity of 800 passengers and 100 tonnes respectively."
He said that Azam Marine Transport Company is expected to import a big ship from Greece next month; the move is expected to ease transportation between Unguja (Zanzibar and Pemba) currently facing sea transport problems.
More travel to study in India
THE Consul General of India in Zanzibar, Mr Pawan Kumaron, bid farewell to three Zanzibar civil servants who have received scholarships to study in India through the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
Return tickets were handed over to: Communications Officer of the Zanzibar House of Representatives Mr Himid Haji Choko, IT officer in the Zanzibar Water Authority Mr Salim Suleiman Khatib and Human Resource Assistant in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural resources Ms Zakia Ramadhan Khamis.
"ITEC programme is aimed at sharing India's experiences in various fields with Tanzania and Zanzibar.
According to Kumaron, 208 scholarships were granted to Tanzanians last year, and "so far 190 Tanzanians including 56 Zanzibaris have benefited.