Dar es Salaam — Reports that at least 45 people died in a stampede when Dar es Salaam residents paid their last respects to former President John Magufuli last month have rekindled calls for mandatory public liability cover.
Also in February last year, 20 people were killed and 16 others injured in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region, in a stampede as worshippers rushed to be anointed by preacher Boniface Mwamposa.
Indeed, the country has experienced cases of multistorey buildings collapsing, thereby killing and injuring people.
'Public liability insurance' is a type of business insurance that covers the cost of claims made by the public that happen in connection with one's business activities.
It covers the costs for personal injuries, loss or damage to property, and death that comes as a result of members of the public coming into contact with one's business.
Against this background, experts say Tanzania needs to urgently enact a law making public liability mandatory so that, in cases of accidents, etc., the victims are compensated.
"Tanzania urgently needs such a law," says an insurance and social protection expert, Dr Baghayo Saqware.
"This should go hand-in- hand with awareness campaigns for people owning spaces that attract large numbers of people - including bars, malls, grounds and schools, among others - to get public liability insurance cover and protect their business," said Dr Saqware, a former Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (Tira) insurance commissioner. ACCLAVIA Insurance Brokers managing director Ancelim Anselim shared similar views.
"This must be mandatory for all public properties to compensate for those who get injured or die in such places," he said - adding that medical and accident insurance cover for individuals could include products for specific events.
"Let's say you go to a football match, you could pay an additional amount for insurance cover which takes care of any risks that might face the policyholder," he said.
The public liability would be like paying compensation for the third-party, and not for mall owners.
"There is no law that forces a person to buy public liability insurance. However, once a third-party gets injured or dies in such a building, the owners are legally bound to compensate the victim. We need to make it mandatory instead of being optional as it is now," he said.
First Assurance chief executive Rogation Selengia said in case of loss of life in a stampede - and the victim had life assurance - then compensation based on the insurance cover would come into play.
The debate, heightened by recent such losses, comes almost two years after Tira revealed that it intended to propose some changes to the sector's policy and regulatory frameworks that would compel businesses to cover their buildings and/or facilities which attract lots of people.
The intention is to ensure that people who get injured or die from such risks are routinely compensated.
Tira insurance commissioner Mussa Juma told The Citizen that changing laws is a process - noting, however, that the proposed changes have already been sent to the relevant ministry where they would later be subjected to parliamentary procedures for legislative action.
"The changes in law must follow that procedure in order for them to be applied. For our part, there are standards that we can set - but not those of compulsory cover, such as setting premium guiding standards and other market conduct practices," he said.