9 November 2012

Tanzania: Govt Follows Examples of UN Vehicles

NOW that the Government has intervened on a hotly contested issue of misuse of the State motor vehicles calling on all that have registered the public vehicles in their names to reverse to the original ones in 21 days from October 19, this year, or else face serious consequences.

It's a move that can clearly be translated as the best one in the right direction.

And this reminiscence the fact that now we have a government that listens to its people. And of course a credit should go to the present State House Administration for the efficiency so far portrayed particularly on this economic sabotaging issue, the anomaly whose remedy is long overdue.

And good enough, the corrective responsibility is squarely placed on the good hands of one of the shrewdest Ministerial level cadres, also known as a 'no-nonsense-man' (in delivering)...Dr John Pombe Magufuli. Meanwhile, the focus is on the expiry of the ultimatum issued by the Minister of Works Dr Magufuli to hear what will happen to the respective individuals who will have not heeded the Government call come November 10, 2012.

State-owned motor vehicles and motor bicycles are registered and issued with ante numbers with such abbreviations as: Serikali ya Tanzania (ST), Jeshi la Wananchi (JW), Police Transport (PT), Shirika la Umma (SU), Serikali za Mitaa (SM), Donor Funded Project (DFP) and Railways Transport (RAB). Taking close observation, though, anybody in this country venturing single handely to de-register a public motor vehicle, must be highly placed in the government hierarchy, in that he/she must be having overwhelming powers challenged by none.

This means that in case of censuring, anybody of the calibre can only be pinned down by the court of law as nobody is above the law under the constitution. But one wonders the root cause of the boldness among characteristics in our public figures. No wonder it is because nobody has been taken to task for looting, hence almost every public worker has resolutely decided to personalize any kinds of public properties under his/her hands.

Nevertheless this copying tendency emanates from what the big shots have been doing against the nation....looting in Billions of Shillings of the public coffers from as highly placed institutions of the like the Central Bank - BoT; exporting of live wildlife as big as giraffes and rhinoceros , looting of gold and other treasure stones in collaboration with some mining companies, expropriation of gold mines - Meremeta and coal mines -Kiwira, allocation of some land plots to as many as ten different landlords just to mention a few properties.

And this behaviour is demonstrated in Minister Magufuli's statistics on the state of the motor vehicles that have their registration changed showing appalling figures. Currently the government has registered about 123,431 cars, motorcycles and construction equipment vehicles in those just about 42,428 vehicles have appropriate number plates. This means a total of 81,003 state motor vehicles are running on private number plates--more than half of the entire public fleet.

And Dr Magufuli wants to stop this anomaly once and for all in that he is reported to have said that his Ministry is to undertake serious overhauling of one of its state agencies - the Tanzania Electrical Mechanical and ElectronicsServices Agency (TEMESA) that is responsible of handling government electrical and mechanical properties, among them the motor vehicles of all kinds. Others are importation of vehicles for the government use and advising on vehicles, machineries running and maintenance of its ferries.

This Agency is transformed from the then Mechanical and Transport Division - MT Depot. Perhaps the Ministry is also working to clear the queries arraigned against TEMESA by a report by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) during the April's (2012) session of the Parliament. One of it concerned government departments' failure to use the Agency as required by the law, regarding repair and maintenance of government vehicles.

The report showed, for example, that TEMESA had not conducted any inspection on government's vehicles in relation to their present number and their road worthiness in short, that made it very easy for government motor vehicles to disappear without a trace or for funds intended for their procurement to be diverted elsewhere, hence the Agency was also entrusted with the task of providing advisory services to government departments on the status quo.

Indeed TEMESA seems to have worked on the CAG report as reflected on the statistics above as released by Dr Magufuli in a recent press conference in Dar es Salaam. The report also found that TEMESA powers had been usurped by government departments in as far as handling of motor vehicles and other machineries issues are concerned thus meaning only one thing - outright looting from government coffers tax payers' hard earned money.

TEMESA officials admitted in their interview with the CAG that government departments had not involved them in anything during 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 financial years. The CAG report also showed that there was a delay, on the part of government departments, to enter into contractual agreement between TEMESA on one hand and selected private garages on the other. Such delay, that might as well been deliberate, may have been created in order to allow certain garages which had not met the required standards to make appraisals on their establishments.

On the nature of TEMESA garages, that was another interesting aspect raised by the CAG report of which are no longer operating due to absence of the state-of-theart equipment.For instance, the report says what is supposed to be the main TEMESA garage, MT DEPOT in Dar es Salaam was last equipped to handle major repairs and maintenance of vehicles, electrical appliances and machineries in 1947 despite the fact that since then, the government has every year been setting aside funds for re-equipping MT DEPOT and other garages across the country!

In short, most of TEMESA garages in the country can no longer handle any repair and maintenance of government vehicles, electrical appliances and machineries, hence allowing private garages in the country to do such work! Such development can only mean one thing, deliberately carried so that government vehicles can be sent by government officials not only to private, but also to their own garages. These acts do not only violate the Public Procurement Act, but also lead to the commitment of outright thefts through the inflation of invoices, a thing that has been perfected into a profession! Interestingly, TEMESA presently is owed by government departments whoops...3.9bn/- in debts that are a result of charges in repairs and maintenance of vehicles, machineries, electrical appliances and other services on various occasions since the Agency was established.

The money has been outstanding a long time, deliberately, in order to ensure that the government agency is crippled financially, for once crippled, it would be difficult for it to buy and equip its garages with the state-of-the-art equipment. And out of the lot, 217m/- has been accumulated since 2006. Another interesting development is that TEMESA has not been inspecting government vehicles which come out of such privately owned garages, hence giving government officials the opportunity to defraud the government of its hard earned tax payers' money.

And government officials know very well that they can do anything about money from government coffers due to the absence of a watchdog institution of the like TEMESA. And this is the challenge in front of Dr Magufuli. Solution to the CAG report will not suffice public condemnations on the misuse of the vehicles by various civil servants. Therefore, all that is needed from TEMESA with the help of Dr Magufuli, is to ensure that the public motor vehicles are securely protected and their movements are fully monitored to the extent that they will not be seen in recreational places like bars, markets, churches/mosques, in shambas, taking children to and from schools et cetera as is the case now.

TEMESA is expected to manage its own yards for parking public vehicles among other things, and this could as well be at a price as is the case now you will find public vehicles parked indiscriminately even in pombe shops. In this case the traffic police should be advised to curb the movements of any public vehicles come 6 p.m. on working days, and remain under the lock and key on weekends and public holidays as is the case with the United Nations agencies--the world government. Some petty excuses might be raised by unscrupulous officers to whom the vehicles are allocated pertaining to running the vehicles past the set time; this should not be entertained as all eligible officers are paid for using their private vehicles on official business including driving to and from office.

Likewise, during the week-end afternoon driving burn epoch, no kind of petty excuses were entertained and it is next to impossible to find a UN agencies motor vehicle roaming the streets at night or on weekends and public holidays, why only the government vehicles. Can't we emulate the Agencies discipline? Or are we better off than the world government!

In this case, Dr Magufuli should pick a leaf either on the then weekends afternoon driving ban era, or the UN agencies discipline as a starter and the rest of the priorities to follow simultaneously. Likewise, the vehicles should have well placed plate numbers and departmental identity signs the size of placards that will be easily detected from a distance to shy away the drivers and the bosses with the tendency of boasting to own the vehicles. If the going is achieved the government will be spared of public criticisms a bit. Let's try and play our part.

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