16 January 2013

Tanzania: These Students Must Be Heard and Helped

Photo: Fidelis Felix/Nation
A Tanzanian policeman (file photo).


THE action taken by hundreds of students from various institutions of higher learning in Dar es Salaam on Monday in which they brought operations of a pontoon serving the Kigamboni Creek to a standstill for some hours cannot pass without comment.

There is no doubt that the action was not in good taste and illegal as it inconvenienced hundreds of Dar es Salaam residents, both motorists and non-motorists, who solely depend on the ferry services to ply between the city centre and Kigamboni on their way to and from home and also on their way to their working places and businesses.

Security was also compromised as police were forced to use some force, including firing tear gas canisters to disperse hundreds of students who marched from Magogoni and Kigamboni Police Station, protesting inaction by the police on their grievances concerning robberies and sexual assaults at their hostels.

Of course the students, however justified in their grievances, used a wrong approach that bordered on the criminal in their attempt to bring the attention of the authorities to their long-standing plight. It is doubtful whether they had really exhausted all avenues and channels to register their grievances, including the administration offices of their respective institutions, the local government and the police.

They could even have petitioned the ministry responsible for higher learning. Yet all said and done, the students deserve to be heard by all relevant authorities and a solution found to their grievances. Commonsense and conventional wisdom would prove the students right in their grievances.

Otherwise, how can one explain such mass action they took on Tuesday? They did not do it for pleasure! Why then can't the administrations at the concerned institutions team up with the local governments and the police to ensure security for the students, who are our own sons and daughters?

Do they want to wait until something more worse, God forbid, happens to the students before they take any action? The police force deserves a pat on the back for managing to calm down the students on Monday. But it should do more than that. It must act immediately by investigating the matter, arrest all those responsible for the students' misery and ensure maximum security for them.

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