State resolves traders strike

  • PM holds fruitful meetings with traders
  • Orders suspension of tax collection taskforce
    Warns against harassing, arresting, closing of
    businesses over tax claims
    Demands bold action against wayward TRA officials
    Urges 24-hour trading at Kariakoo Market

AFTER hours of impasse, where shops remained closed, traders at the famous Kariakoo business centre, heeded to the government’s call for them to reopen businesses, while their concerns were swiftly being addressed.

The traders had for the better part of on Monkday closed their shops, calling for the removal of what they termed as nuisance levies imposed and collected by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa had to make swift intervention to end the strike, with his convoy arriving at the busiest business hub in the country and around the East African region on Monday afternoon to address the traders, having earlier met their leaders at his Magogoni office.

Majaliwa said the Kariakoo Market is an important business centre in the country and the government will not accept it to be lifeless, and pledged to continue engaging in negotiation with the traders in a bid to address their concerns and ensure the market remains afloat, vibrant and businesses continue to blossom.

“We need the business hub to remain vibrant and it is the government’s responsibility to ensure business thrives. Kariakoo is a very crucial centre for business in our country, it attracts huge influxes of businesspeople from within and outside the country every day. We cannot let it die.

“We’ve heard your outcry and we will resolve every challenge that has caused the impasse,” said the PM.

Mr Majaliwa assured the traders that the government respects their activities and recognises the contribution they make in the economic growth of the country.

He pleaded with the traders to ease their stance and reopen their shops for business, the call that was taken on board.

The Premier is expected to meet with the Kariakoo traders’ representatives at the Anatouglou Hall in Dar es Salaam tomorrow, to get further details into their grievances. Also in attendance will be the Minister for Investment, Industry and Trade Dr Ashatu Kijaji, Minister for Finance and Planning Dr Mwigulu Nchemba, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Amos Makala and TRA officials.

Mr Majaliwa also directed the TRA Commissioner of Domestic Revenue to immediately suspend the tax collection taskforce.

“We have information that TRA created a Task Force and it is moving around here at Kariakoo to harass businesspeople. This is not acceptable because President Samia Suluhu Hassan had ordered for such task forces to be disbanded. What you are doing is going against the president’s directives,” warned Mr Majaliwa.

Mr Majaliwa further warned TRA against mounting illegal crackdown in tax collection, insisting that such a move will hamper and later kill business.

“It is more important to enforce education on tax collection than using force. It is unfortunate that we round off our traders and worse still foreign businesspeople,” said the PM, while also decrying corruption among dishonest TRA officers. He tasked police to step in and arrest those involved.

He also ordered for the immediate suspension of the registration of warehouses, which are used to store traders’ consignments, challenging them to review the procedure of registration to avoid double taxation and illegal seizure of customers’ goods.

Kariakoo, the popular business centre serves several South, East and Central African countries and it is pivotal for Dar es Salaam’s economy.

Speaking in Dodoma earlier yesterday, the Minister for Investment, Industry and Trade Dr Ashatu Kijaji told the National Assembly here that a team of top government officials led by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Amos Makala was holding a series of meetings with traders for a better part of yesterday to ensure that business in the Dar es Salaam busy trading area returns to normal.

She was responding to Lawmakers queries, who had requested the House to suspend business during yesterday’s morning session to discussing an urgent matter of the Kariakoo strike insisting that with shops remaining closed in the country’s business hub, the country was losing revenue, above all, their electorates were failing to earn their daily income.

Kariakoo hosts an extensive market and variety of shopping outlets, which remains among major contributors to the country’s economy.

Also, traders in and outside Tanzania are dependent on the trading centre for the purchase of retail and wholesale products, which include home appliances, clothing stores, agricultural, veterinary, and medicine, among others.

It all started with Makete Member of Parliament, Festo Sanga (CCM), who immediately after the questions and answers session requested the House Speaker, Dr Tulia Ackson to halt business in the august House saying that with the strike at the popular Kariakoo market over 50 per cent of businesspersons from his constituency had been affected.

“Traders have been caught up in the cat and mouse race from officials from TRA over nuisance levies and this has brought business in Kariakoo to a standstill, something that is affecting traders from across the country including those from my constituency,’’ he insisted.

He therefore called for postponement of the parliament business schedule to have the matter discussed as an urgent issue by MPs so that the government can quickly intervene to get an immediate solution.

Earlier on Monday, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) also issued a statement, refuting bureaucracy claims levelled against them by Kariakoo traders.

“TPA would like to assure the public that following massive infrastructural investments made by the government at the port sector, there has been an impressive improvement in service provision, especially in offloading all kinds of cargo as well as clearance of cargo by strictly adhering to port rules,” read the statement.

It further said that TPA is working 24/7 to serve all customers with both customers and call centres always open for 24 hours, objective being to ensure that all challenges are reported and swiftly resolved.

The statement also called on customers and all stakeholders facing challenges to reach out to the TPA Directorate of Marketing and Public Relations for the challenges to be addressed.

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