Arusha — Foreign exchange shops in Arusha were under tight security from mid-day yesterday, with officers in military uniform keeping vigil at the premises.
No customer was allowed into the outlets which are normally packed with clients buying or selling foreign currently.
At least two officers stood at the door of each shop, while some officers appeared to be carrying some audit work inside.
Sources said the officers doing the said inspection were from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), but this could not be confirmed by press time.
A senior official at the central bank zonal headquarters in Arusha was apparently surprised when reached by this newspaper on the issue.
However, after consultations with others she said the bank would later in the day issue an official statement on the closure of the money exchange shops.
"Give us your contacts. We will later issue a statement and contact you" she told The Citizen on the phone.
She could not say if the dispatch will be issued by the BoT headquarters or the zonal office.
Information had it that the closure started between 11 am and 12 noon, taking by surprise people seeking foreign exchange services and the business community.
None of the owners of dozens of forex shops spread across Arusha could be reached to comment on the developments.
However, a random survey by The Citizen indicated anxiety among the business people, especially in the central business district around the famous Clock Tower area.
Reached for comment, Tanzania People's Defence Force spokesperson Ramadhani Dogoli referred this reporter to the Arusha Regional Police Commander.
However, the RPC, Mr Ramadhani Ng'anzi, said he has no authority to comment on TPDF operations.
"The army operates independently, so I can't interfere," said Mr Ng'anzi in a telephone interview.
The suburb has a large concentration of forex shops, tapping the tourists shopping in curio outlets and checking into or out of hotels and business delegates to conferences.
Ordinary traders and customers of the closed currency shops, apparently stranded, could be seen in groups along the Sokoine, Boma, Kanisa and Goliondoi roads discussing the measure.
A shop owner in the neighbourhood said he has been told that BoT officials were carrying out some inspections in the closed forex shops.
Most of the closed money changing outlets were guarded by two army officers who were not armed.
However, there were four of them outside the Clock Tower branch of Sanya bureau de change, the largest of a chain of forex shops owned by a prominent Arusha businessman, all along the Sokoine Road.
Arusha has dozens of forex shops, a third of them located in the CBD, the others in the commercial zone in the city and others in the suburbs, mainly on roads leading to national parks and supermarkets.
A few were closed early this year after failing to abide by new regulations of the central bank.
Although no statement had been issued to The Citizen in Arusha by BoT by 6pm, the move is likely to raise uncertainty among the business community, especially those in the travel sector.
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