Sunday, September 2, 2012


I wonder why some women choose to subject their children to unnecessary hardships!
There is this woman in her early forties, decent looking and energetic who stays under a tree with six of her eight children near Dar es Salaam's Gymkhana club. She spends the day under the tree and the nights either by the roadside just next to BP petrol station near  Movenpick Hotel or in hotels when she has money.
"When I have money, we spend the nights in a hotel," she told me recently. A friend of mine asked me to talk to the woman since she could not understand why such a decent looking lady could stay under a tree! My friend thought the lady stays under the tree because that is where she normally finds her very early in the mornings on her way to work. But the truth is that she normally gets there very early in the morning.
I had seen, heard and read about this woman before, but as requested by my friend, I decided to find out for myself why she stayed under the tree.
Approaching her, I could have been forgiven for thinking she was not the woman I was looking for. With her under the tree were two decently dressed women plus her children. The two women were seated on a mat and were busy chatting with the woman under the tree. The woman in question seemed too decent to be the one I was looking for. My friend had alerted me she looked so decent to be spending days and nights under that tree.
Were it not for the children who were playing around, I would have mistaken the woman plus her guests for people enjoying the afternoon breeze.
She welcomed me warmly and after exchanging greetings, I told her who I was and what I wanted. She laughed before telling me she had had enough of us (journalists). I told her I meant well and after she introduced me to her guests, she welcomed me to sit on the mat. Within a short time, her guests, which she introduced to me as her younger sister and a friend took their leave.
To cut a long story short, the woman used to be a very good English primary school teacher, according to her and people who know her that I spoke to. She lost her job in 2003 following her mother's death after which she did not report back to work for a year. She said she could not report back to work because she had fallen ill, claiming she had been bewitched. That those who bewitched her wanted her to become a lunatic. The woman accuses her family members.
After losing her job, she engaged in business between DRC, Kenya and Tanzania. During this time, she dated men of different nationalities, some with whom she had children with. She has a child with a South African, a Zambian, a Kenyan, a Congolese etc. Of her eight children, six have different fathers each.
The first two children are in the care of their father's relatives following his demise and these are the only ones born by the same father. The remaining six stay with their mother on the street.
One wonders why such a mentally okay looking mother could choose to live a street life. Could it be because of the handouts from passers-by? During my almost five-hour stay with her during the interview, I witnessed her getting not less than 60,000/- from Good Samaritans. One man brought her kids some juice, others promised to come back and see her. Could this be what keeps her and her children under that tree? Could she be using the children to get mercy from those kind at heart?
But why deny the children the right to an education? On the tree under which the family stays is a little black board. This woman teaches her children how to read and write. She also teaches them English. But that is not enough.
Her friends and family whom she says hate and want to kill her say they just can't bear seeing their sister/friend living that kind of life. They have tried all they could to give her a decent life but in vain. They also tried to take the children away to give them a better life but the woman won't let them take them away. A friend said family members rented rooms for her and her family but she did not get along well with fellow tenants and had to go back to the streets.
When I asked her why she stays out while there are cheaper rooms, she said she can't afford to stay in a single room with all the children.
Like I said earlier she is able bodied, she can teach, she is good at handiwork (she is good at hair dressing, sewing) but she just chooses to sit under the treee with her children. She is currently breastfeeding two children at the same time. These are not twins, but one is two years old and the other is eight months old. She even delivered these two children on her own.
I initially thought she was not okay upstairs but the time I spent with her made me conclude she was not. Even her friends and family say she is not.
One wonders the kind of future she is subjecting her children to. For how long will she keep enjoying the handouts? Fortunately, a Good Samaritan recently took her to a family planning clinic where she was put on family planning. At least she can not have babies for five years, according to what she told me.


Agony of widows being denied right to matrimonial property

By Stella Barozi

Six-year-old Zainab Mohammed stays at home while other children of her age in Buguruni Kwa Malapa area go to school.

Her jobless mother, Ashura Ally, 33, cannot afford to take her to school. Neither do Zainab’s three brothers Idd, 14, who would be in Standard VII this year, Yahya,11, who would be in Standard VI and Ibrahim, 9, who would be in Standard II go to school.

They dropped out of school last year when their mother fell ill and could no longer run her small business that used to support the family.

The children’s father, Shukuru Mohammed, died in 2009.
Although Zainab has never been to school, she can write numbers one to ten and can do simple arithmetic.

“She likes school a lot and feels bad when she sees her friends going to school daily while she doesn’t. It really hurts me for she keeps asking me to take her to school. I cannot afford to take her to school,” laments Ashura.

She has no means of earning an income. Her late husband, who used to work with the then  former Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) was the family’s sole breadwinner.

When Ashura fell ill last year life became difficult since she no longer earned an income. Her father, Ali Chanzi, 50, had to send the children to their father’s younger brother, Abdul Mindu, at Vikindu, Coast region. He then took his daughter to his home in Buguruni where he rents a single room.

“I took my daughter so I could take care of her. I had to take the children to their uncle in Vikindu since I could not afford looking after all of them given my little income,” says Chanzi who works as a casual labourer with Bakhresa Group of Companies.
Since the children went to Vikindu in June last year (during the school holidays) they have never gone back to school.
Ashura accuses her brother-in-law of not having made any effort to find a school for the children.

However, Mawazo Selemani, a friend of the children’s uncle, Mindu, and who initially, was appointed as administrator of their father’s estate refutes the allegation.

Selemani who is a councillor of Mbagala’s Kiburugwa ward and who recently withdrew from administering the late Shukuru’s estate, says the children’s uncle was in the process of finding them a school at Vikindu when Ashura took them away.

He believes Ashura did so because she feared she would not get a share of her husband’s estate if the children stayed with their uncle.

He blames Ashura, for having “done nothing to ensure the children go to school.” Selemani says she could even have sought local government’s assistance.

According to him, Ashura’s late husband left behind property he had inherited from his father including farms and plots which could enable his children go to school. “He also left a six-room house at Nzasa, Mbagala, but I wonder why she doesn’t live there. She is not supposed to be living the kind of life she is living today,” says Selemani.

Ashura and her children live in a single-room house given to her and her children by her father’s landlady. The boys share a 3.5 inches bed while Ashura and her daughter Zainab share a 3.5 inches mattress on the floor, all given to them by the land lady.

Ashura says she had to rent three of their four-rooms (she says it’s a four-room house) at 8,000/- a room a month since the house is unfinished. The money she gets from the rent helps her reduce the burden of care on her father who currently feeds her family.

She refutes Selemani’s allegation that she took the children away so she could get a share of her husband’s inheritance. “When the schools opened and the children saw no sign of being taken back to class by their uncle, they decided to come back to me,” says Ashura.
She accuses her brother-in-law of delaying the process of instituting a probate and administration cause so she and her children could get her husband’s estate.

Ashura’s husband’s employer advised her brother-in-law in 2009, to sit as a family and appoint an administrator of estate so the company would pay its late employee’s family its dues, but he was uncooperative.
He himself was reluctant to the assignment because he claimed to have been accused of planning to rob his brother’s children’s property.

Ashura could not get her husband’s last salary from his bank simply because her brother-in-law refused to give her her husband’s death certificate to show at the bank. He did not want her to take the money until they instituted a probate and administration cause. This was despite pleas from Ashura that she and the children needed the money desperately.
Since her brother-in-law seemed to take eternity to follow-up the matter, “we decided to go to the Mbagala Primary Court on March 17, 2011 where the court summoned Mindu to come to report on April 6, 2011. He came with the administrator of estate,” says Ashura’s father, Chanzi.

The court required the family to bring all the documents on the April 19, 2011 so they could institute a probate and administration cause. However, neither did Mindu nor Selemani appear at the court that day.

The court set another date, April 29, 2011 but again the dual did not appear. When they failed to appear on the May 6, 2011 the magistrate asked Ashura’s family to get another death certificate so they could proceed with the process.

Unfortunately, Ashura and her family could not raise the 30,000/- needed to obtain another death certificate.

Waziri, who recently withdrew from administering the estate after the story appeared on ITV thinks Ashura is confused.

“I am surprised at the way she is denying things. Perhaps she is doing so out of life’s frustrations. She is kind of half-minded due to life’s difficulties,” says Selemani. He claims most of the things Ashura is saying concerning the issue are not true.

Selemani says he could not follow-up the issue as Ashura would have wished him to do since he has other things to do. He says he withdrew from the assignment (estate administration) since it reached a point where he was accused of robbing the late Shukuru’s property.

“She has problems and that’s why she is not in good terms with her brother-in-law,” Selemani says of Ashura.

According to him, the children’s uncle only wants to ensure his late brother’s property is well administered. Who knows Ashura could re-marry? “That’s why he needs to make sure the property is in good hands so that his brother’s children are not robbed of their wealth,” says Selemani.

Is he in support of the Customary Law?

Human Rights activists describe both Islamic and Customary Laws which are dominant in Tanzania as being discriminatory.

Under the customary law, a widow is denied inheritance. The law states that her share is to be cared by her children just like she cared for them.

An analysis of The Inheritance Law in Tanzania jointly done by Georgetown’s International Women’s Human Rights Clinic and Tanzania’s Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC) has it that “Instead of recognizing widows’ right to inherit matrimonial property, Customary Law treats them as minors dependent on the care of others and as property to be inherited by men.”

The report also states that Islamic law similarly disadvantages women and perpetuates their dependence on men. “Islamic law facially discriminates against widows and daughters,
granting women one-half the share of men,” WLAC report states in part.

Ashura, was recently appointed administrator of her husband’s estate, thanks to intervention by the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA). It’s TAMWA’s intervention that saw the former administrator, Selemani pulling out and finally Ashura getting her right to administer her husband’s estate.

Bahati John, a counsellor and information officer with TAMWA, says they receive many cases of widows denied their right to matrimonial property when their husbands die. “We receive between 15 and 20 cases in a month. The issue has now become common…because of the customary law which undermines and denies widows their rights,” says Bahati.

She says people prefer the Customary Law due to the fear that the woman could re-marry and the deceased’s property be enjoyed by another man. Unfortunately, people misuse this law by not safeguarding the deceased’s property but grabbing it instead.

Another reason people use the customary law is the fact that this does not require representation of a lawyer, unlike is the case with the Probate and Administration of Estates Act, 2002. “People opt for the customary law because most can not afford hiring a lawyer,” says Bahati.

And some women hesitate to engage lawyers lest the family view them as being money minded. Bahati says “that’s when they accuse you of killing your husband.”
Juvenal Rwegasira, an advocate with Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC), says inheritance issues are among the leading issues the centre handles.

It is because of the severity of the problem that TAMWA, together with other Civil Society Organisations want to push the government to enact the law that allows people other than the deceased’s wife to administer their late husband’s estate.


What the disabled expect of census, constitutional review

By Stella Barozi
Two key events are taking place in the country this year. The on-going collection of views on the new Constitution and the forthcoming National Census on August 26.

People are hopeful that their lives will change for the better if the exercises will be well effected and the intended purposes well implemented.

While we all have different expectations, People with Disabilities (PWDs) look forward to getting a lot more from the exercises. Most PWDs continue to be discriminated against and denied of their rights to different social services such as health, access to information and education among others.
This time around, PWDs would like to be well involved in the two exercises. They want to speak for themselves on how they would like their issues be addressed in the new Constitution and during the census. They believe if their voices are heard, their lives will be improved.

A very recent study on the implementation of the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) shows that PWDs are among people living in the most dangerous conditions in Tanzania.

According to the survey, jointly undertaken by a university of Dar es Salaam lecturer, who is also disabled, Lucas Kija, and Clarence Kipobota, an advocate, most PWDs live in abject poverty, have low education, have no formal training and are not employed.

"They also suffer frequent abuse of their rights frequently done by the police, district officers and the legal system itself,” says the study.

A three-year Young Voices Disability Project under the Tanzania Cheshire Foundation launched last year is one of the PWDs’ advocacy groups currently fighting tooth and nail to see that the two exercises benefit PWDs as well. They want PWDs to fully participate in both exercises for their own development.

Dodoma project coordinator, Alex Mhando, says PWDs expect the census exercise to analyse them in terms of their different types of disability, their educational levels and employment status among others. He says the exercise should be able to come up with the exact number of PWDs currently estimated at 3.9 million. This will help in addressing their different needs.

Kija and Kipobota found in their study that Tanzania, with its over 40 million population, has no reliable data on the number of people with disabilities. However, the researchers say the number of PWDs is estimated at between 7.8 percent and 9 percent of the population.

Mhando advises the Constitutional Review Commission to reach all the PWDs in the country to get their views so they can be well involved in the constitution making process. He advises the commission to ensure it has sign language interpreters so that people with hearing impairments are not left behind in the democratic process. He also advises that the materials used in both the views seeking and census processes should also be printed in Braille for people with visual impairments.

Peter Mwita, the Morogoro project coordinator, thinks the two exercises would be successful if they involved sensitisation seminars. These he said would help to make people turn up en masse to participate in the processes.

Some parents hide their disabled children for various reasons and so the seminars would enlighten the parents on the importance for example of having them counted.

"Some parents or families don’t bring their children or disabled family members out during census exercises. They do so due to ignorance and this is why sensitisation seminars are very important,” Pascazia Yahya, a student at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and a Young Voices member echoed the sentiment.

However, Mhando sees a light at the end of the tunnel as far as inclusion and consideration of people with disabilities in national matters are concerned. Slowly, some people are beginning to consider them in their plans, like when constructing buildings.

Some lifts in storey buildings in Dar es Salaam, for example, have elevators with devices that announce each floor number that the lift stops at. A good example is the Constitutional Review Commission’s building whose lift announces the floor numbers. This is very helpful, especially for people with visual impairment.

Mhando says the lift in this building also has enough space for a person with a wheel chair. “It also has toilets that are user friendly to persons with disabilities. We commend them for this,” says Mhando who hopes the same applies during the views collection exercise.

During a recent visit to the Constitutional Review Commission’s office, Alex and some colleagues got the opportunity to speak to the commission’s Deputy Secretary Casmir Kyuki, who assured them the exercise has put into consideration the needs of PWDs such as the presence of sign language interpreters and that important publications are also printed in Braille for those with visual impairments.

The Young Voices Disability Project has vowed to make follow up on this. They want to make sure PWDs use their democratic right to participate in the two processes.

At a recent workshop for persons with disabilities, the PWDs agreed to sensitise each other throughout the country to fully participate in the two important exercises. The Constitution Review and the national Census.

Birth Deformities

Hydrocephalus: A mother’s worst nightmare

By Stella Barozi
It’s every expectant mother’s dream to have a healthy normal child when the time comes. We pray for the best during pregnancy since given our technology, it’s not easy to tell whether a child has problems while it’s still in the womb. We do whatever it takes to protect our unborn children, like giving up alcohol, following the doctor’s advice to the book and even calling the doctor before taking any medication during illness to make sure we are doing the right thing. Despite all the precautions we take, some children are born with deformities. And such is life.
When Columba Pius Mbiki was about a month or so in her fourth pregnancy in 2007, she started experiencing sharp pains in the right hand side of her lower abdomen. Her belly was also unusually big.
When she went to hospital, an ultra sound scan showed she had a tumor and she was put on bed rest.
“One night as I slept, I had a dream where a woman in a white gown showed me some wild fruits to take to remove the tumor. The fruits resembled cucumbers,” says Columba who lives in Morogoro Municipality’s Mji Mwema area.
She ignored the dream but when it appeared for the third time, Columba sent one of her relatives to the bush to get her the fruits. “I ate them and vomited a lot such that my relatives thought I was going to have a miscarriage. Fortunately I did not and my big stomach shrunk tremendously,” says Columba.
When she went back to hospital for her antenatal visit, doctors were surprised to first see her reduced belly. Secondly, the scan showed very little signs of a tumor. “I initially did not tell the doctor what had happened but when he insisted to know, I told him about the dream and the wild fruits. He asked me to see him another day but I never did,” says Columba.
On 22nd June 2008, Columba gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. Her daughter, Josephine was born naturally despite the plan having been to deliver her through a caesarean section because of the tumor.
According to Columba, Josephine who is now four years old did not show any sign of abnormality until when she was four months old.
“One day when I returned from work, I noticed Josephine’s head had swollen a little bit and her face was very shiny.” The movement on the baby’s soft spot on the head also known as the fontanelle had stopped.
Josephine’s head got bigger by the day and Columba decided to seek medical advice. She took Josephine to hospital and the doctor said she had hydrocephalus.
According to internet sources, hydrocephalus also known as "water in the brain," is a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain.
This may cause increased intracranial pressure inside the skull and progressive enlargement of the head, convulsion, tunnel vision, and mental disability. Hydrocephalus can also cause death.
Hydrocephalus can usually be treated using a piece of equipment known as a shunt. This is a thin tube that's surgically implanted in the brain and used to drain away the excess fluid.
Columba was referred to the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) where her daughter was operated on on 21st, October 2008. A shunt was implanted in her brain to drain away the excessive fluid from her head and she is expected to live with the shaft throughout her life. The operation went very well and Josephine would be taken back to hospital for check-up. The check-up visits started with weekly intervals which later turned to monthly intervals, three-month intervals and now are done after every six months. Doctors are usually amazed at Josephine’s progress at every visit. During such check-ups, tests are regularly done to check the children’s developmental and intellectual, neurological or physical problems.
“Last year when the doctors were satisfied with Josephine’s progress, they advised me to establish an NGO or support group in Morogoro for parents with children with hydrocephalus,” says Columba.
They wanted such parents to learn from her experience and the fact that with early treatment, their children could be saved from further damage or even be healed like her daughter who lives a normal life today.
The mother of four tells you with pride how doctors have advised her to get her child a good school since she is doing very well intellectually.
When she got back to Morogoro, Columba did as the doctors’ had advised and started looking out for parents with children with hydrocephalus.  MOI also used to send parents from Morogoro to Columba for psycho-social support.
On 23rd April, the Morogoro branch for the Association for Spinal Bifida and Hydrocephalus Tanzania (ASBAHT) was officially opened with Columba as the chairperson.
By June 30th, Columba had managed to convince parents of 24 children with the problem to join the support group. Of these, five have died from various diseases and only nine children are yet to undergo any operation although they have been attended to by doctors at MOI already.
MOI provides free treatment to such children but most parents have been unable to fully utilize the opportunity due to lack of awareness and sometimes poverty. Some parents, according to Columba are too poor to even afford the 6000/- bus fare from Morogoro to Dar es Salaam. Most parents can also not afford to pay for a CT-scan in a private hospital now that MOI’s CT-Scan is out of order.
“Most parents, especially women who bear the child care burden have no income at all. This is a very big challenge. Most hide their sick children because they think they can’t afford the treatment costs. What they don’t know is that MOI provides treatment free of charge, the operation, the tests,” says Columba.
Because of poverty and the stress of taking care of such children, Columba says most parents don’t see the importance of being in support groups. One advantage of being a member of a parents’ support group is that it helps parents to realize the importance of taking their children to hospital. Some hide them because they are not aware that the disorder is manageable.
Parents also share ideas and exchanging notes on how best we take care of their children, console and support each other in any way possible.
“Having such a child can be a nightmare. I know of parents who have abandoned their children because they have the deformity. Husbands have abandoned their wives because they gave birth to such children, leaving them to carry the burden of care all alone. You can imagine taking care of such a child as a single unemployed mother,” Columba notes.
She is herself grateful that her husband and family were very supportive. Columba says her husband’s support, family, colleagues at work and the community at large saw her through the difficult period.
“They gave me moral and material support throughout. It is this support that has made my daughter who she is today. Support helps in the healing process. It gives you the strength to fight on. Discriminating such a child only makes matters worse for both the child and its mother,” says Columba whose daughter looks just like any other child.
She calls upon society to view such children as other normal children who need lots of love and care. “Let’s carry this burden together,” she says.
According to Columba, the ministry of health has pledged to establish a centre with hydrocephalus experts in Morogoro if it is assured there are enough children with the problem. And this will only be possible if parents with such children come out. She believes there are more children out there with the problem. A centre in Morogoro will be a relief to parents to whom paying bus fare to Dar es Salaam is a burden.
Columba calls upon government and other stakeholders to help bring services to their area as soon as possible. She advises parents to consult doctors every time they think something is wrong with their children. She says some parents consult witchdoctors first and only go to hospital when it’s too late. It is because she consulted medical personnel immediately she noticed something was wrong with her daughter that today Josephine lives a normal life. “The earlier the better,” Columba says.

Road Accidents

Of Dar’s traffic jams and the risky ‘Boda boda’ rides

By Stella Barozi

(Motorcycle accidents rose from 647 in 2010 to 695 in 2011.File photo)

Hellen can count the number of times she has ‘risked’ her life by taking a Boda boda (motor cycle) ride.
Risked yes because those who have taken a motorcycle ride say it is very risky given the kind of motorcycle drivers that we have. Young, inexperienced, careless, you name it. They even say there is a special ward at the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) for cyclists.
Despite having vowed to never ever board a boda boda, knowing the risks, Hellen has gone a head and done so three times. She sees herself taking more rides in future. She has no choice given Dar es Salaam’s notorious traffic jams, especially during peak hours!
Apart from being cheap, motorcycles provide you with the solution to getting to your destination on time, especially when you are in a hurry and there is traffic jam. They easily negotiate their way through. You just don’t have to think of the risks when you choose to take a motor bike.
Today when Hellen hires one, the last time was last Saturday, she only thinks an accident would only happen if God has said so. And no one can stop this.
“First of all, I never thought I would ever board a Bajaj (tri-cycle) but I went ahead and did it one day and have been doing so ever since. In fact I don’t remember the last time I hired a taxi,” says Hellen. Bajajs too are less expensive. But when it comes to beating traffic jam, motorcycles are the best.
This is why Hellen is slowly becoming a convert, despite having dreaded them in the beginning.
“I had heard and seen people get motorcycle accidents. I know how reckless most drivers are and back then, I could never have risked my life. But do I have a choice? You know the congestion on Dar roads. You could stay on the road for over two hours,” she says.
The first time Hellen took a motorcycle was way back in 2010. She was supposed to attend a family meeting in Segerea and because there was heavy traffic jam as is normally the case on Saturdays, she had to take a Bajaj from Mwenge to Ubungo where she expected to board a dala dala to Segerea.  She took the Bajaj after having stayed at the bus stop for over thirty minutes. Daladalas were difficult to get and the few that stopped at the bus stop were already too full.
When she finally got to Ubungo, Hellen spent over an hour and a half at the bus stand and there was no sign she would get a bus to Segerea anytime soon. There was traffic jam and vehicles were not moving at all. The only way out was to take a motorcycle.
“I asked the driver if he had a helmet. He gave me one and off we went. Despite warning him to be careful, my heart was in my mouth through out the journey. I sighed with relief when I arrived at Segerea safely but vowed to never take a motor vehicle. And I never did the whole of last year until last month when necessity arose again. You know traffic jam,” Hellen says. She has taken the rides twice without a helmet.
The second time happened when Hellen needed to go to Kimara after work. Since it was already late when she left office and the fact that there was heavy traffic, a boda boda ride was the only way of getting there fast. Thankfully, she got to Kimara safely although she prayed to God to protect her through out the journey.
Not everyone is always lucky. Chrispin, a resident of Mabibo has been involved in motorcycle crashes twice and advises friends and relatives against taking Boda bodas.
“They are not safe at all. I have been lucky twice and have since sworn to never take a motorcycle. I would rather walk than take one. Today I hire taxis every time I’m in a hurry. Although they don’t help when there is traffic jam, but they are safer than Boda bodas and Bajaj’s,’ says the father of three.
Two months ago, he witnessed a woman with a child on her back getting a motorcycle accident at Ubungo traffic lights. The motorcycle was at a very high speed and unfortunately, the driver lost control.
“I didn’t want to see what would happen to the woman and her child after they fell on the road since there were vehicles behind the motorcycle. I later learnt that the vehicle behind avoided them,” says Chrispin.
Motorcycle drivers, most of them young boys are not careful on the road at all. They ride the motorcycles as if they are in a race.
“Some of us learn to drive motorcycles in the morning and believe to have qualified in the evening. Very few undergo proper training and most therefore are ignorant of the road rules,” says Mohammed, a motorcycle driver at Mwenge.
He says although the business has created employment to many young men, most are misusing the opportunity. This has resulted into many lives getting lost.
According to Legal and Human Rights Centre’s 2011 Tanzania Human Rights Report, road fatality in Tanzania is increasingly becoming a threat to life for thousands of innocent people. These accidents have become the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of five to 29.
“Currently, the number of people involved in road accidents in Tanzania is greater than the population growth… despite having road safety regulations and institutions, road accidents have continued to be on the rise,” reads the report in part.
Dar es Salaam Region is said to be the leading region in road accidents whereby 10,429 accidents occurred last year leading to 423 deaths and 2,698 casualties. Pwani Region led in deaths by road accidents where 504 people died and 2,715 got injured in 1,974 road accidents.
Traffic police reports show the number of people who died in road accidents rose from 3,582 in 2010 to 3,981 in 2011. Likewise, the trend of deaths by motorcycle accidents rose from 647 in 2010 to 695 in 2011.
Legal and Human Rights Centre’s analysis shows that an average of 20,000 people in Tanzania are disabled from road accidents annually. According to LHRC’s report, road accidents are mostly fuelled by human error such as misjudgement, excessive speed, overtaking errors, negligent pedestrians, passengers, cyclists and cart pushers. Others are alcohol and drugs consumption, reckless driving, overloading of passengers and goods, parking errors and drivers’ fatigue.
Most respondents in the LHRC’s survey cited negligence as the main cause of the accidents. Other factors mentioned include corruption, irresponsibility, poor management, driving while using mobile phones and drink driving, driving without having proper training, bending traffic regulations, poor vehicle conditions, old vehicles and lack of vehicle maintenance among others.
Other studies show that 76 per cent of road accidents are caused by human factors, 17 per cent by vehicle conditions and 7 per cent by external factors.
LHRC advises government to take concern of all the mentioned reasons to reduce road fatality in the country.
The law enforcement organs need to be serious on making sure road regulations are followed. They need to make sure drivers don’t drive while drunk, don’t use mobile phones while driving and that they respect Zebra crossings among many others.
“Most drivers ignore Zebra crossings. They don’t stop at Zebra crossings but instead expect pedestrians to stop so they (vehicles) can pass,” says a concerned pedestrian, Esther.
She thinks all these can be stopped if traffic policemen adhere to their work ethics.