By Karl Lyimo
Acting somewhat desperately, the Government in Dar es Salaam is frantically embarking upon desperate measures which are ostensibly designed for, and intended to, sort out a problems which – albeit mundane as it is – has been causing the relevant authorities embarrassment no end!
This is the rampant and escalating poaching of wildlife for the illegal international trade... A problem which the Government feels duty-bound to tackle headlong, head-on, soonest!
Incidentally, while I was looking into this latest development in the country's relatively unique flora and fauna endowments, I came across anotehr problem which also calls for desperate measures. This is the now-chronic road traffic congestion especially in metropolises like sprawling Dar es Salaam.
Even then, transport-related woes are not confined to road transport, be that metropolitan or rustic.
Railway transport for both passengers and cargo has for far too long remained a vague shadow of what it was up to the early 1970s. That was when it was possible for one to board a train in Dar es Salaam, go to sleep and wake up in Nairobi, Kenya and beyond without even noticing that one had crossed national borders. Boy!
Marine and air transport services as provided by the Government and its affiliates also leave a lot to be desired: an astronomical gap between needs and deliveries, demand and supply...
However, there is a slight difference regarding tackling both problems... While the poaching problem is being tackled by the Government and its related institutions, the transport issue is in this particular case being dealt with by private sector operators.
Let's start with the latest cuckooland transport plan to haul Tanzania out of the performance doldrums it walloes in and to the next fantasmagorical level!
A widely read regional newspaper recently published a report under the heading 'Tanzania regulators ponder amphibious bus use!' [The exclamation mark is mine, not the Editor's\.
'An ambitious transport project to introduce amphibious buses originally slated for this year may take longer to happen due to lack of a regulation policy,' the report states. [East African Business Week: February 24, 2014\.
Amphibious buses are a common phenomenon in far-advanced countries in Europe and the Americas. The buses are constructed in such a way that they can be used both on land and in water; hence the epithet ‘amphibious,’ denoting suitability or adaptation to both land and water use/'life!'
Indeed, amphibious vehicles are not an entirely new phenomenon, especially in the Military World. In due course of time and events, passenger vehicles have been manufactured on more or less the same lines, and these are quite popular as transport in North America and the Netherlands, including tourist atractions in ways more than one.
Reportedly, the project is a joint bid by a local company, Transevents Marketing Limited-Tanzania and a Dutch company, DAT b.v (Dutch Amfibious Transport Vehicles) of the Nertherlands, makers of the 'Amfibus.'
It seems the two went into cahoots well before tanznia was ready for such a development. According to the Communications Manager at the Tanzania Surface & Maritime Transport Regulatory Authority (SuMaTRA), David Mziray, Tanzania has no regulations to control such kind of transport – which must be in place before the project takes effect.
So, we still are a long way from solving the transport woes!
With regard to the rampant poaching problem, we are told that the Govt. has outlined four priority areas to combat wildlife poaching and illegal trafficking. One is a cargo container control programme “to increase capacity for efficient and thorough monitoring of export containers at air and sea ports.”
To that end, Natural Resources & Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu says “we shall ensure that Customs Department (personnel) are equipped with, and trained in the use of, high-tech scanning equipment and trained sniffer dogs.” [<www.busiweek.com/> accessed February 24, 2014\.
The problem, Mister Minister, is NOT lack of trained personneel well-equipped with state-of-the-art detection gardgets and sniffer dogs. All those already exist at the country's major exit/entry points. Yet, smuggling is the order of the day, including live giraffees, rare reptiles, antelopes, birds and wildlife trophies.
This is to say nothing of illicit narcotics, human trafficking, momey laundering, general smuggling – the whole kit and caboodle!
When all is said and done, it all boils down to the simple, little matter of grand corruprion in all its shady forms. The malady has defied all odds in Tanzania simply because the will to clamp down heavily, promptly and indiscriminately on the perpetrators is just not there within Government circles, period!
This is amply made clear by past, recent and ongoing developments whereby top leaders boast details of such perpetrators, but no punitive, remedial and deterrent action is ever taken against them – and, equally important, the action is seen by all and sudry as being taken!
Five-ten years hence, the poaching problem will still be with us... Only of the worst degree. Tears!