Why non-recoverable loans dwindling efforts to emancipate women tricycle with disabilities

For the purpose of empowering marginalized groups of women and youth with no resources to set as collateral in financial institutions, 10 per cent loans were first introduced in 1993.

To realise this, in 2018, the amendment of Local Government Financial Act Cap 290 sec. 37A set 10 percent as a mandatory free interest loan set by Local Government Authorities from their own revenue for empowerment of women, youth and people with disabilities, by providing groups to carry out income generating activities to lift their households out of the extreme poverty.

The 10 per cent revolving loan schemes were distributed by 4-4-2 principle, for Youth, Women and People with Disabilities respectively.

After registering themselves as loan beneficiaries, some groups in Dar es Salaam, including women and people with disabilities managed to access the loans to engage into different undertakings for them to emancipate themselves from the extreme poverty surrounding their respective families.

Amina Saidi is a single mother. The woman who is living with disability is able to support the needs of her daughter and a relative’s child, thanks to the loan she accessed from the Ilala Municipal. The loan she accessed turned her disability to ability and she emerged a hero of her own family and people surrounding her.

For people with disabilities to excel; repaying back their loans comfortably while catering for their family needs, a special route for tricycle riders was established in the Dar es Salaam City centre. This was Kariakoo-Ferry route. It was a boost not only to Amina but all people with disabilities. But as of now, they are struggling repaying their loans they accessed through 4-4-2 principle since the local authorities lifted a ban on passenger tricycles ridden by people without disabilities from operating in the city centre.

Perhaps their struggles are partly being reflected in an Annual General Report of the Controller and Auditor and Auditor General for the Financial Year 2021/2022 which unveiled that there was a
Non-Recoverable of 88.42bn/- from Loanees.

“My assessment of the performance of the Revolving Fund for Women, Youth and People with Disability found that loan beneficiaries in 180 LGAs defaulted a total of 88.42bn/-. Non-recoverability of issued loans might have been influenced by laxity of management in taking legal actions against loan defaulters as a means to enforce repayments,” CAG noted.

To this group, life is not going smoothly as it was. They opine that the enabling environment prepared for them to operate, especially in the city centre, is no longer there, the reason why their members are struggling to repay the soft loans.

“We are not only failing to pay back the loans but also feeding our families too. I’m a mother, a bread winner but also living with a disability. It is hard given the current situation,” says another woman with a disability who asked for anonymity.

Plea to Ilala authorities

Due to such an environment, the Association of tricycle (Bajaj) riders with disabilities (UWAWABADA) submits a special request to the authorities to re-introduce a ban on passenger tricycles ridden by people without disabilities from operating in the city centre.

Tanzania Association of the Physically Handicap (CHAWATA) chairperson Hamad Komboza asks Ilala Municipal authorities to re-introduce the route saying people with disabilities who rode passenger Bajaj were privileged to operate in the city centre while others were barred from going to the Posta area.

Mr Komboza stated that among challenges facing the group were to operate along with people without disabilities whom they cannot compete with when it comes to scrambling for passengers. He linked the challenge with inability of the CHAWATA members to service their outstanding loans.

“We ask the government to consider re-introducing the previous arrangement of not allowing riders without disabilities to operate in the city Centre,” he said.

District Commissioner Mr Edward Mpogolo assured the association the government will address their challenges, saying plans were in place to label all Bajaj operating in the city centre.
He said the decision will be made during the meeting of the district’s committee for road safety where by-laws would be crafted.

“We will mark all Bajaj entering the city centre so that you could know those who are not supposed to operate in the area,” Mr Mpogolo stated.
He also reminded the riders to observe road traffic laws and regulations, including respecting traffic lights so as to avoid accidents.

According to him, Councils in the country must set aside 10 per cent of their internal revenues for interest-free loans based on a defined scale, with women and youth receiving 4 per cent each and People with Disabilities (PWDs) receiving 2 per cent.

“So far, 88 billion/- has been issued to various groups across the country, but none of it has been repaid, owing to the fact that the groups that lend the money do not even exist and some of them believe that their Councilors gave them the money as a gift, so there is no need to refund.

“This approach of using Councils will not bear fruit at all; the correct approach here is to use the bank where this money should be collected, every council should be accounted for and for that year 10 percent of it should be sent to the bank for the groups to borrow from there,” she explained.

Tabling the committee suggestions on budget estimates for the Ministry of State in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government budget estimates for 2022/2023, the Committee’s Vice-Chairperson, Dennis Londo, said reports on the use of such funds vary.

He said it was high time the government prepared a special expenditure report based on the 10 per cent revenue as well as developing an online portal to track the loans.
“The report shall show the loans granted and repaid, and the amount spent on management for each Council from 2018 to 2022,” he noted.

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