19 December 2012

Tanzania: Magogoni Fish Market, a Ticking Time Bomb

Photo: http://www.irinnews.org
Nine people are reported dead and over 300 undergoing treatment for cholera in Sumbawanga district (file photo).

THE Magogoni International Fish Market located along the Indian Off-Shores, a modern facility that was constructed in Ilala Municipality by the Government of Japan through its organisation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and handed over to the government in 2002, caters for more than 1500 businesses.

The market started more than five decades ago serving local fishermen. It is the busiest market particularly in evening and morning hours. Gradually, it grew up to become a famous fish-trading centre. From that time, its problems such as disposal of solid waste and security, became evident.

The place is plagued by shortage of adequate safe and clean water, turning it into a time bomb for epidemics like cholera and diarrhoea. The fish landing ground is poor and fish is just put on the ground during the off loading from small boats.

The practice is a health risk. Due to the various challenges, especially the filthy environment, which provides strong smell outside the market building, there is a great health risk. But consumers due to lack of awareness, still frequent the area.

Any will to clean up the place would be a futile attempt as the equipment for the work is in severe shortage. The government recently through its Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development, Dr Mathayo David Mathayo, threatened to repossess the 10-year old facility following the foul smell surrounding the market.

I visited the market and had an interview with some of the fish mongers who have been there for almost eight years. One who declined to be named said, "Come on this side my brother... (Inside the toilet) eh... look at this. Is this a toilet a human being can use?

This is shame; it looks like volcano layers of lava." The market is international and a tourism destination for people around the world. Good administration to run the market is therefore necessary. We are making many donations and taxes to improve cleanliness of the place, but there is no change.

Running water system has collapse. Waste chambers remain unattended. The risk of losing customers is big because the fish there is not good for human consumption. There appear to be no signs of renovations and so depreciation of the facility goes on.

The risk of fire breakout is high and previously there have been such accidents that threaten the business of more than 5,000 people at the place daily. "We market traders and other stakeholders should understand the effects of this shocking situation with many products sold for human consumption," said a fish monger.

Shockingly, various newspapers have published that Tanzania Tourist Board(TTB) plans to produce a film featuring places like this Magogoni Ferry Fish Market as part of efforts to intensify tourism marketing and promotion campaign in the Indian market. "

I think these efforts will paint a negative image of our country in the eyes of foreigners if there will be no serious efforts to improve the place. It is advisable to film Kariakoo Market rather than Magogoni," a fish dealer at the market, cautioned.

He added that it was important to improve the environment to attract customers and not to do that for people who made comments for their own motives. The fish monger referred to a recent tug of war between Ilala Municipal Mayor, Jerry Silaa and the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development, Dr David Mathayo David. The mayor had said that the market was filthy, but the minister refuted the claim.

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