The Road Safety Committee in Arusha region has directed Arusha's Municipal Director Estomih Chang'ah to keep the municipality roads clear of the hordes of hawkers who have invaded most areas of the city.
The committee's Chairman, Gelase Rutachubirwa sounded the grave concern during a preparatory meeting for the Road Safety Week which lasts from September 17 to 22, this year. The meeting was attended by various stakeholders including Assistant Superintendent of police and Head of Traffic Section, Nestory Didi.
Mr. Rutachubirwa said hawkers selling their wares on sides of roads and also even taking over whole streets have reached a crisis level and are the major cause of traffic jams in the city's roads. He wondered why the municipality is not taking any action to contain the situation.
"Despite of repeated pleas to the municipal director to keep roads clear of Machinga (hawkers), no action has been taken, " he said.
Mr. Ruta added that the situation has deteriorated so much that even those owning licensed shops have now decided to display and sell their wares outside their shops and blocking roads just like Machingas do.
He explained that blocking roads and pavements was not only causing a problem to motorists, but also denying pedestrians their rights to use the roads.
It is clear that the municipal council has failed in carrying out its role with regards to the hawkers issue but they should realize that they are denying people their basic rights, he said.
Assistant Superintendent of Police, Didi said the Road Safety Committee role is to see to it that the city is safe and the rule of law is observed.
He also attested that the presence of hawkers in many areas of the municipality has contributed heavily to traffic jams, adding that the move to keep hawkers off streets should be a continuous exercise. The matter, he said, needs to be addressed urgently.
Municipal Council Lawyer, Afwilile Lamsy, speaking on behalf of the council director, claimed that he municipality was preparing (inajipanga, a Swahili word vaguely used to imply that preparations are going on) in the endeavor to make sure that hawkers got an alternative area to operate their petty businesses.
He said within a period of four months Machingas would be off streets and relocated to a special area.
He said the council would allocate an area capable, specifically for hawkers, capable of holding 600 of them. He did not however, mention where the location is. Hawkers who have colonized Arusha city are in tens of thousands.