MORE than 30 unofficial ports along the coastline in Dar es Salaam and Coast regions are linked with smuggling of substandard and counterfeit goods into the country.
Despite inspections by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), Fair Competition Commission (FCC), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) at official entry points, the problem has remained rampant.
The Minister of Industry and Trade, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, has strongly warned traders engaged in illegal business, especially those smuggling fake or substandard goods into the country to stop immediately.
He said the ministry in collaboration with the Police Force was now executing the campaign against illegal trade. Dr Kigoda ordered business people to remove all fake products from the shelves and stores before tough measures were implemented.
"The coastline along the Indian Ocean is long and some people take advantage of geography to play foul," he said. He said the presence of the 32 unofficial ports was earmarked in two regions, but the situation could be worse in other unidentified parts along the coastline and lakes across the country. "This," he said, "calls for swift measures to put to an end the costly malpractice."
Recent statistics show that about 20 per cent of all imported goods into the country are fake, thus plunging the nation into massive revenue losses as well as health risks to its citizens. It is estimated that between 15 and 25 per cent of total domestic revenues are lost due to counterfeit imports.
Dr Kigoda told a press conference that the government was determined to uproot all culprits engaged in illegal business to protect the country's manufacturing sector. "The manufacturing sector has been suffering massive losses due to few individuals with intention to make quick gains.
It is unacceptable and the government will deploy all its respective instruments to put to an end the business," he said. He said the local market has experienced influx of substandard electric wares, motorcycles, bicycles, tyres and some consumable goods which have been causing losses to buyers.
The last year's figures reveal an annual loss of between 540bn/- and 900bn/- due to tax evasion related to counterfeit and substandard goods. Dr Kigoda called upon importers of substandard motorcycles to stop immediately as it was raising serious concern due to losses incurred by consumers in a short span of time.
Apart from providing employment to the youths, but it is continuously costing the nation lives due to accidents. For example, between January and November this year, 1,997 accidents were reported, costing lives of 140 people in Dar es Salaam alone.