23 January 2013

Tanzania: Ubungo Terminal Disaster a Timely Lesson On Safety

THE incident in which portions of walls at the Ubungo Bus Terminal (UBT) in Dar es Salaam crumbled under pressure of a falling signboard on Monday, crashing into and damaging more than 20 motor vehicles, some of them brand new, cannot pass without comment.

It was the kind of negligence that could have led to loss of lives or serious injuries if all or some of the vehicles that had been parked near the crumbling walls had passengers in them! What about if the motorists had decided to leave children in the cars? Luckily and by the grace of God, those cars were empty.

There are disturbing reports that some security officials at the UBT had even forced motorists who had gone to the facility either to receive their members of their families or friends arriving from upcountry or in connection with any other business to park their vehicles near the wall.

They did so knowing only too well that a demolition exercise, to pull down the walls, was going on. Again, what about if the walls fell on the electricity wires or a nearby transformer? Dar es Salaam City Council authorities have already pledged to probe into the incident and inform the public later on what really happened.

The council shouldn't stop with just issuing the report. Whoever will be found to have been responsible for the incident that must have caused such colossal loss should be taken to task. Surely, it was not some child's play to see dozens of cars damaged through the carelessness of others.

If there is a lesson that authorities and the general public should learn from the UBT disaster, then it is the need for all stakeholders in the construction industry to put the safety of others, especially passers-by and vehicles above anything else. Yet we see construction activity going on in our towns and cities with no care in the world about the safety of construction workers themselves and passing pedestrians and vehicles.

We don't get to hear much about the harm caused by such carelessness but the truth is that a number of people get injured, some fatally, due to lack of proper safety measures at the sites. The UBT disaster should serve as a timely lesson for all players in the construction industry to institute proper safety measures prior to embarking on their projects.

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