Lindi. Delays at highway check-points have triggered an outcry among timber traders in Mtwara and Lindi regions.
The traders have described “excessive roadblocks” as a major “catalyst” for corruption seriously affecting their business.
Their spokesperson, Mr Frank Nganyanyu, said yesterday there were almost 20 checkpoints between Nachingwea and Dar es Salaam alone.
“Timber consignments are inspected at every checkpoint, causing major delays for cargo to reach the market,” he said.
He revealed that in “most cases” they were spending at least 50 minutes at every checkpoint. He accused officials manning the checkpoints of deliberately causing unnecessary delays in their attempt to solicit bribes.
Traders are proposing that the checkpoints be reduced to only three or introduce one in every district to avoid excessive delays of cargo movement.
The traders were speaking during a forestry stakeholders’ forum, which was part of the implementation of the Mama Misitu campaign and the partnership programme between World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) programme on forest and land-based investment funded by the Finnish government.
Another timber dealer, Mr Mikidadi Saidi, revealed that the presence of many checkpoints compelled them to bribe the Tanzania Forest Service Agency (TFS) and local government officials. “We’ve to bribe them to avoid unnecessary disturbances and costs on offloading and re-loading of consignment during inspections.”
Mr Joseph Kigula, an official in charge of coordinating Participatory Forest Management (PFM) at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, however, defended the multiplicity of check points, saying they intended to control dishonest traders.
“Some unscrupulous traders load uncertified timber along with the certified ones into the trucks,” he explained.