CUT the rhetoric short and act is the message President Jakaya Kikwete conveyed to leaders across Tanzania. "Endless debates and meetings will not help develop the country. Instead, leaders should make decisions and ensure quick implementation of development projects, he stressed in Rufiji on Sunday.
The president noted at the ceremony to launch a youths' agricultural camp at Mkongo area that Tanzania lacked quick development because people entrusted with various tasks have been talking more than acting.
Prior to launching the camp and inspecting activities by a group of 50 youths, President Kikwete wanted to know whether the two companies that had asked for agricultural land in Rufiji River Basin had their request granted.
The Managing Director of the Rufiji River Basin Development Authority (RUBADA), Mr Aloyce Masanja, assured the president that the two companies, Frontline Development Partners and Lukurilo Holdings Company Limited, have been allocated land by the authority as requested.
But when President Kikwete pressed for more details on the matter, he was told by Mr Masanja that Frontline Development Partners, who asked for 20,000 hectares were yet to be allocated land and Lukurilo Holdings, who asked for 12,000 hectares, had been allocated 4,000 hectares only. This prompted the president, obviously unimpressed by the explanation, to openly express his displeasure.
"We have been talking about this subject for four years now in vain. We even discussed this matter at the State House. What has happened? We also agreed on the implementation programme. So, what is this now," he asked.
The president expressed his concern that it will take too long for the country to achieve meaningful development if people entrusted with overseeing implementation of important decisions reneged on their duty. "We won't develop with endless debates and meetings. We cannot move on like this," he remarked.
Ordering that all leaders who are responsible for the issue should meet next week, Mr Kikwete pointed out that the country's development process was stunted by such people who engaged in endless rhetoric. Earlier, President Kikwete told the leaders of the camp which is owned by RUBADA that the task of the camp should be that of mentoring youth to self employment in modern farming.
"We are preparing competent youth farmers, not agriculture job seekers. A camp like this should not mentor job seekers because in rural agriculture is by itself a main employer," he said.
Meanwhile, communities living in the Rufiji Delta islands in Coast Region can afford a broader smile after President Kikwete presented them with two speed boat ambulances in support of the neighborhood health surveillance initiative.
Speaking at a brief handover ceremony held on Saturday in Nyamisati vicinity, with a magnificent view where the Rufiji River enters the Indian Ocean, the president warned against misuse of the boat ambulances that have been offered to prevent mother-child mortality in the area.
"District authorities (Rufiji) and other stakeholders have the responsibility to take good care of the boat ambulances. The district office must assist on clearance of another ambulance vehicle. The automobiles should not be used for private missions," Mr Kikwete warned.
He commended Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) for donating fibre-boat ambulances and the Land-Cruiser Hard Top, which was not at the scene, the explanation being that clearance procedures with the revenue authorities were not accomplished timely.
The Ifakara Health Institute, through its Community Health Surveillance project (CONNECT) and development partners, Comic Relief and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, offered the boat ambulances or River Ambulance, fibre-glass type, both valued at 122m/-.
Clarifying on the carrying capacity of the boats, the Senior Researcher (IHI), who is also the Project Manager, Dr Ahmed Hingora, said eight people could be accommodated in each of the boats; the driver (captain), nurse, the one giving escort, two expecting mothers and others.
"The boats are also furnished with First Aid kits, fire control gadgets, life jackets and transfusion kit. They (boats) are driven by 50Hp engines each, were designed and manufactured by local technicians at Kunduchi workshop in Dar es Salaam. The Surface and Marine Transport Authority, (SUMATRA) inspected the machines and offered certificates of worthiness," Dr Hingora explained.
It was agreed that the boats be stationed at Nyamisati and Mbwera villages along the Rufiji River and IHI, through the CONNECT project, would foot the running costs for 2013/2014 and the district council to take over in the next financial year.
As for the Land-Cruiser ambulance, it was agreed that the vehicle should be placed at Kibiti Health Centre alongside Lindi-Dar es Salaam Highway to assist on transportation of referred patients including road accident survivors.
Ms Mariam Ali (45), a resident of Nyamisati, thanked President Kikwete and IHI for the assistance that she said arrived at an opportune time to serve lives of pregnant mothers, sick children and other villagers previously stranded in the Delta or Rufiji islands.
"Lack of transport initially contributed to unnecessary deaths as getting out of the Delta islands was a big challenge. The boats will serve many lives as residents from different villages will be able to reach health facilities before they fall seriously sick," Mariam observed.
Among other villages to benefit from the newly introduced boat health support services include Kiomboni, Salale, Mfisini, Saninga and Mchinga. Ms Fatma Omar (25), is one of community health service providers trained for nine months by Ifakara Health Institute.
She says reaching out communities has proved extremely useful as some of the parents would not take their children to hospital immediately even for a child with high fever. "It was not easy at the beginning to convince expecting mothers to attend clinic. Also parents were reluctant to seek medical attention for their children as even malaria cases were considered 'degedege'. Child mortality has dropped significantly.
Before introduction of health community surveillance, a child was buried almost everyday in either of the villages around this place," enthusiastic Fatma explained. Rufiji district was the first in the country to pilot Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) so that a reliable malaria diagnosis can be obtained in the remotest health facilities, including those without laboratories. RDTs are now used throughout Tanzania to detect malaria for appropriate treatment.