AfricaPress-Tanzania: BARELY a day after Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa issued four-day ultimatum to Regional Commissioners to work on cement crisis, the latter on Tuesday began acting on the order, with some fielding their subordinates to do survey or operation.
Cement crisis was Majaliwa’s first agenda immediately after he took oath of the office, on Monday this week, at Chamwino State House in Dodoma.
The Premier Majaliwa ordered the RCs to investigate the reported nationwide shortage of cement, which has led to ‘unreasonable’ price hike.
According the Prime Minister, cement prices have hiked whereby retail prices of the product has increased by between 3,000/- and 4,000/- per 50kg bag.
He, therefore, told them to find out root causes of the problem and give feedback by Friday this week.
Some Regional Commissioners in the cement producing regions have quickly responded to the Prime Minister’s ultimatum, including in Dar es Salaam and Tanga.
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Aboubakar Kunenge has already taken swift steps in line with the Premier’s order, noting that one of them was to dispatch the police force in all five districts to conduct operation over the cement crisis.
Mr Kunenge directed the law enforcers to conduct a manhunt and arrest dealers, who have inflated prices.
He said it was baseless to continue selling the product at high prices, while manufacturers have confirmed that they did not raise industrial prices of the product.
“The regional government will never bear with those people, who inflate prices. They should be dealt with at any cost, this is to steal from the citizens,” Mr Kunenge stressed.
He informed that in his region some of dealers who were found to have been selling the cement at unordinary prices have been arrested.
However, he quickly said due to intentions that had been made before the Prime Minister’s directive, some dealers had started lowering retail prices.
Tanga Regional Commissioner Martine Shigela was on Tuesday on his way back to Tanga from Dodoma, to attend swearing in of Prime Minister, but he had already acted upon Majaliwa’s directive.
Even as he was yet to arrive in Tanga, RC Shigela had already brought down the directive to his subordinates; District Commissioners (DCs).
He said he has instructed DCs to do survey at cement stores and compile report about state of cement prices in their jurisdictions and hand over the reports to him immediately.
Mtwara Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa said he was still in Dodoma and would organize with his people in the region to implement Prime Minister’s directive immediately after he returns back in Mtwara.
“I am still in Dodoma; I will let you know what we have done in response to Prime Minister’s order over cement crisis,” he told the ‘Daily News’ reporter.
The cement crisis bites more in Lake Zone regions where the prices have skyrocketed at an extraordinary level.
The ‘Daily News’ spoke to some of the Regional Commissioners from those regions, who as well expressed measures they have taken to tackle the problem.
Geita Regional Commissioner (RC), Engineer Robert Gabriel, stated; “I always tell them whatever the causes; nobody is allowed to violate the law by setting their own prices. There are some official procedures to present their claims, if any.
“I have already formed the team to investigate the issue and bring answers in the given time frame by the Prime Minister. I’m much sure the problem will be immediately solved as no one is above the law,” said the RC.
He further warned that whoever found violating the law (setting own price) will be in trouble as law enforcers are ready to take legal actions.
He admitted an increase in cement price in his area, from the indicative 20,000/- to 20,500/- to between 22,000/- and 23,000/- per bag.
He said most traders do usually give irrelevant reasons behind price increase, including delay in availability of the products at manufacturing sites, with truck drivers spend long time and many expenses at factories.
Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Brig Gen Marco Gaguti, told the ‘Daily News’ in a telephone interview from Dodoma, where he witnessed the swearing-in of Prime Minister Majaliwa that he expected to arrive in Bukoba Municipality today.
“This is a matter of priority I will be working on it immediately upon my arrival,” he said.
The price of cement in Bukoba Municipal Council remained high for almost two months even as some manufactures refuted reports of public complaints against the commodities’ inflated prices.
The survey revealed that a bag of cement was available at retail price of between 22,000/- -25,000/- depending on the brand. Before the hiked prices, a bag of cement was sold between 18,000/- – 21,000/-.
Hassan Biluganyuma (45), who owns a retail shop along Kawawa Street, at Miembeni Ward said cement price increased sharply during campaigns prior to the October 28 general election.
Tanzania has a total of 14 cement producing companies which have a joint production capacity of 10.6 million metric tons per year.
The factories however produce a total of six million metric tonnes per year against an annual demand of 5.6 million metric tonnes.
The extra 400,000 metric tonnes of cement is exported, largely to neighbouring countries.