It did not occur to me to ask him what he thought of the grand structure of authority. We arrived there around 11 am at the place and as usual, there was a long queue at the sentry door to register and check in.Having been there a couple of times previously, it did not take us long to clear ourselves with the security at the gate.
In such a huge building, you need to know well where you are going. Kimati had his assignment. I had mine. But we tackled them one at a time together. That was how I landed at the public relations office of the passport officers of the nation.Kimati having settled him mission at the office, a settlement that meant we had to move to another office, we picked up each a quarterly magazine of the office and walked out to the commissioner, who would now answer our questions and render our mission fulfilled.
The senior officer was and I do presume that they still do call him Abas Irovya. Mr Irovya sat in an ornate office with a table bedecked with a telephone that reflected his power.“Human trafficking across Tanzanian mainland is a big business,” he told me while Kimati left us to look for his man in the vast building.What beat me was how illegal immigrants could get into Tanzania on one side and exit on another nearly a thousand miles away undetected.
Obviously, there is no doubt Tanzania, of all the East African territories, is the vastest. With an area of 362,340 square miles, it is just too big for the government officials to fully protect from unwanted visitors.Given the strength of the government in terms of personnel or for that matter, civil servants, it does not have enough immigration officers plus any other sentries to cover all the border openings that illegal immigrants do us.
Abbas said his office was engaged in a war that, despite its small appearance on the surface, was indeed an iceberg and what the nation saw was merely its tip.“This problem is bigger than what many see,” he told me. “The cause of these people’s flight lies in their countries of origin and something has to be done right there to reduce their traffic here.”Apparently, as Mr Irovya said, international talks must be held to destroy roots of the flight of humans across Tanzania. That was what the immigration was at the time doing. “We are holding talks with Ethiopian government to see how we can stop emigration from their country, since most illegal immigrants passing through our country come from Ethiopia,” he explained.
The real cause of these flights could be remote, the paramount one being the world’s financial crisis and the chief sufferer of the crisis is Africa, whose dishonest politicians have stolen much money and hidden in overseas banks. The world market system too is lopsided against it, making too poor to provide adequately from its people.
Western arms merchants are making big money by selling guns Africa’s trouble spots, making them more volatile. This shows that the wars are remotely triggered by outsiders who benefit from the conflicts. The result is disastrous. Africa is on the move. Its people are moving within their countries from one place to another or right out into other African states.
From my talk with Mr Irovya I learned that the job of immigration officers at the border is dangerous. Trying to block a desperate, hungry and angry person seeking food and refuge cannot be a sake act. Such people will do everything in their power to overcome the obstacle and the obstacle is the immigration officer.
Such government officer at such a crucial point in the country, given the weight of the work at hand, must have the wherewithal to do the work.
“These people come armed,” said Mr Irovya and he explained an incident when immigration officers were forced to run away when they challenged some smugglers who were armed.
“There was nothing they could do in the face of people armed with long knives,” he said. Such an incident shows what a mockery of immigration duties is made by the powers that be. These officers, whose one of the principle qualifications is law, undergo a rigorous training with all uniformed officers of the Home Affairs like the police officers and prisons officers.
They are trained to use a gun, but do not have guns to patrol the border. We need not be told that the training is done with a purpose. Denying immigration officers guns, especially those at border posts, is risking their lives.