Too much rot at Dar port

13Feb 2016
Editor
The Guardian
Too much rot at Dar port

Dar es Salaam port was again in the spotlight on Thursday after Prime Minister Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa paid an impromptu visit to the harbour, apparently after being tipped off about the rot being perpetrated in connivance with the Weights and Measures Agency (WMA).

It was during the tour when the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Magdalena Chuwa, was put to task for her failure to ensure fuel offloaded from tankers passed through oil flow meters for accurate measurement.

She was then given four hours in which to explain to the prime minister in writing why the meters stayed idle since 2012 on her orders, considering that the government had coughed up USD1.2 million_(about Sh 2.5 billion) to purchase them.

As a newspaper, we leave the rest to the government, but already the cat is out of the bag.

Thursday’s incident, of course, must have greatly shocked the prime minister after noticing that the oil flow meters had rusted owing to falling to disuse since they were installed about three years ago.

Apparently, there are individuals who have been ripping huge profits from the oil business for the non-use of the meters, considering the fact that measuring the amount of imported fuel has all along been done using an unreliable ‘stick’.

The beneficiaries could be oil importers themselves as well as officials at the weights and measures agency. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that oil flow meters, to a large extent, help to reduce cheating in oil measurement, which, in turn, helps to calculate the amount of tax payable to the government.

To put things in perspective, what could be happening to Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) if its supplied water does not pass through any meters within our homes as we use it? The answer is simple - huge losses in terms of revenue to the corporation.

By all standards, a substantial amount of what should have been tax must have ended up in people’s pockets over all this period of time that the oil flow meters were deliberately decommissioned.

To substantiate this hypothesis, we are told that the agency (WMA) took a different stand by starting working on the metres after they received an SMS alerting them about the PM’s visit to Kurasini Oil Jetty ( KOJ) to inspect the meters.

The question is: Who sent the SMS to the agency? There is no doubt that if the government throws its weight into searching the culprit it will identify them and, probably, their link with the rot.

Thursday’s incident is a wake-up call to the central government about how rampant rot is within our ports. Oil containers have, on several occasions, been finding their way outside the port and depots without the government getting its fair share of tax due, and now the game has turned to imported oil.

As President Dr John Mafuguli reflects on his hundred days in office, he should come up with strategies to plug all tax evasion loopholes everywhere, not only at our ports. Going by his words, Tanzania is a rich nation capable of being a donor country.

The only thing we need is political will to stamp out corruption, judiciously exploit the country’s resources and work hard.

JPM has bolstered civil servants’ accountability

In ethics and governance, accountability is responsibility, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, accountability has been central to discussions related to problems in the public and private sectors, nonprofit and corporate bodies and even to individuals.

In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions and policies, including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

In governance, accountability has expanded beyond the basic definition of ‘being called to account for one's actions’.

Although the corporate world has, to a larger extent, managed to infuse accountability as a performance culture, this vocabulary has for a long time yet to be welcomed aboard by most civil servants.

From senior civil servants down to subordinates, it was always a challenge for a citizen to be adequately served. Which prompted the not-so-funny joke that the only place where a civil servant could be concerned with time was at the airport when they were about to fly!

Some 100 days since Dr. John Magufuli’s inauguration as the new president of the United Republic of Tanzania, the public has seen notable changes in terms of accountability by civil servants. We understand that anything bearing the word ‘change’ takes time to correctly grasp, as it connotes different meanings and nuances to different people.

Nevertheless, the 100 days of JPM’s administration have revealed that accountability embraces dignity, while laxity always leads to indignity.

In hospitals we now see improved services and due care from doctors and nurses, giving not only the deserved treatment to the sick, but also some relief and hope emanating from caring and humane language to patients.

The discouragement that one would experience when they visited a land office in old bad days, which would make one ‘sick’ of bureaucratic inefficiency, is no more. When formerly it would take one to two years to secure a title deed to one’s plot, since Magufuli’s entry things have changed for the better.

At the land ministry one is now treated like royalty and things move like clockwork.

Furthermore, government officials who used to report to their offices at their own convenient time are now punctual. Punctual to a fault. Today you should not be surprised to learn that some of your comrades who used to loiter during office hours have now changed their attitude to work. They are almost practically glued to their desks!

By jove, things are changing – and for the better. Those who failed to administer well or sidelined their professional ethics are now regrettably musing about their fates.

Suspensions and dismissals are haunting them; and yet many more are doomed to fall on the wayside for lack of accountability.
Kudos to the president for instilling a sense of service and responsibility in civil servants.

We hope that he won’t tire anytime soon until bureaucrats in their posh offices realize that bureaucrats are indeed mere servants of the public, high-sounding titles of their ranks notwithstanding.