Arusha. Forex shops in Arusha were under tight security from mid-day yesterday, officers, who were in army uniforms took charge of their premises.
No client was allowed into any of the currency exchange bureau normally flocked with clients getting in to buy or sell hard currencies almost throughout the day.
At each of the shop at least two officers stood on the doors while some officers appeared to be carrying some audit work inside.
Sources said the officers doing the said inspection were from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) but this could not be confirmed by press time.
A senior official at the central bank zonal headquarters in Arusha was apparently surprised when reached by this newspaper on the issue.
However, after consultations with others she said the bank would later in the day issue an official statement on the closure of the money exchange shops.
"Give us your contacts. We will later issue a statement and contact you" she told The Citizen on phone.
She could not say if the dispatch will be issued by the BoT headquarters or the zonal office.
Information had it that the closure started between 11 am and 12 noon, taking by surprise people seeking foreign exchange services and the business community.
None of the owners of dozens of forex shops spread across Arusha could be reached to comment on the development.
However, a random survey by The Citizen indicated a withdrawn mood among the business people, especially in the central business district around the famous Clock Tower area.
Reached for his comments Tanzania People’s Defense Forces’ spokesperson Mr Ramadhani Dogoli referred this paper to Arusha Regional Police Commander.
However, when reached, Arusha Regional Police Commander Mr Ramadhani Ng’anzi said he has no jurisdiction to talk about TPDF operations.
“The army operates independently, so I can’t interfere, what’s so ever,” said Mr Ng’anzi in a telephone interview.
The suburb has a large concentration of forex shops, tapping the tourists shopping in curio outlets and checking into or out of hotels and the business delegates to the conferences.
Ordinary traders and customers of the closed currency shops, apparently stranded, could be seen in groups along the Sokoine, Boma, Kanisa and Goliondoi roads discussing the measure.
A shop owner in the neighbourhood said he has been told BoT officials were carrying out some inspections in the closed forex shops.
Most of the closed money changing outlets were guarded by two army officers who were not armed.
However, there were four of them outside the Clock Tower branch Sanya bureau de change, the largest of a chain of forex shops owned by a prominent Arusha businessman, all along the Sokoine road.
Arusha has dozens of forex shops, a third of them located in the CBD, the others in the commercial zone in the city and others in the suburbs, mainly on roads leading to the national parks and the super markets.
A few were closed early this year after failing to abide by new regulations of the central bank.
Although no statement had been issued to The Citizen in Arusha by BoT by 6pm, the move had not been welcomed by the business community, especially those in the travel sector, fearing it can have negative impacts.