Dodoma — A FEW days before the Constituent Assembly (CA) began its meeting here over three weeks ago, Dodoma Regional Commissioner (RC), Dr Rehema Nchimbi, had sounded optimistic that her region was going to benefit a lot economically from this meeting.
"You are welcome to Dodoma and please spend your money here to support the economy of this region," she was quoted by some sections of the media telling the CA members.
Dr Nchimbi had believed that all the 629 CA members were going to be booked in various hotels in Dodoma, a move that would have generated huge income not just to the owners of these guest houses, but also to their employees, food and grocery suppliers, utility companies and other service providers.
The reality is that CA members have acted differently from what Dr Nchimbi expected, because they are trying as much as they can to minimise their spending, to save money for some other personal needs.
A quick survey done here recently has shown that even the hotels that the Parliament office had booked for the members are not fully occupied, because CA members have opted for other cheaper alternatives.
Hotel Fifty Six, for example, which is a stone's away from the Parliament building is accommodating fewer CA members than during ordinary Parliamentary sessions. With nice rooms, accommodation rates in this hotel range from 20,000/- and above, but CA members have run away from it.
Since these members have almost three months to attend sessions here, the best option for some of them has been to hire houses which make them pay less than what they would pay in hotels or other kind of lodges in this capital city.
Despite such servings, CA members have some alternatives that they cannot easily forego. These are none other than expenditures in food, drinks and transport.
For a CA member using a private car to and from the Parliament plus other round trips, he/ she may spend a minimum of 7,000/- a day. Those hiring taxis spend an average of 6,000/- for transport per day.
If one was to do a quick calculation based on the minimum 6,000/- spent on transport per day, then the 629 members in total spend 3,774,000/- for travel while in Dodoma per day.
Most filling stations have admitted that their sales have shot up since the CA sessions started here. Taxi drivers also admit that they make some more money during this time. Another need that all the CA members cannot avoid is water.
If all the 629 members would be drinking one bottle of Kilimanjaro water per day that sells at 1,500/-, it means that they spend a total of 945,500/-.
(We have not included smokers or those who occasionally drink beer, wine or spirits). Food is another prerequisite that CA members may not afford to ignore. Taking a minimum spending of 10,000/- a day, all the 629 members spend 6,290,000/- daily for food.
Going by these minimum spending estimates, Dodoma city reaps 10,709,000/- daily from the CA members currently meeting here and for the 70 days that they are supposed to be here, they will spend 749,630,000/- just on transport, food and water.
It should be taken into consideration that this approximation has not included the expenditure of other cadres currently in Dodoma for the assembly.
The list includes government officials, journalists, representatives from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), drivers, CA member spouses and National Assembly employees, just to mention a few.
CA members spend money in other different ways in Dodoma. They visit salon and barber shops, they buy toilet needs and their cars are sent to mechanics for repair.