Dar es Salaam. A total of Sh1.4 billion was raised yesterday to assist people affected by last weekend’s deadly earthquake in Kagera Region.
The money was donated by foreign embassies and members of the business community during a fund-raiser hosted by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at State House, Dar es Salaam. Cash donated during the function totalled Sh696 million, while about Sh700 million was in pledges.
The fund-raiser took place three days after the 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck in Kagera Region, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than 250 others amid concerns that the government had been too slow to respond to the disaster.
Yesterday, Mr James Mbatia, chairman of the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi, accused the government of neglecting hundreds of displaced people in Bukoba, saying they had been left without food, shelter or medicine.
Speaking in Bukoba, Mr Mbatia said the cancellation of President John Magufuli’s trip to Zambia following the disaster was “meaningless” because the State had done nothing to assist survivors.
Meanwhile, Kagera Regional Commissioner Salum Kijuu said the region needed Sh2.3 billion to purchase drugs, medical equipment and building materials.
The death toll rose to 17 yesterday after one of the scores of people who were injured died in hospital, Major General (rtd) Kijuu said.
In Dar es Salaam, Mr Majaliwa said the government was responding appropriately in the wake of the disaster in which about 840 houses were destroyed and more than 1,200 badly damaged.
Schools in Kagera Region have been particularly hard hit, and the government has closed Nyakato and Ihungo secondary schools and directed that urgent repairs be carried out at Kashenge and Buhenge secondary schools.
Mr Majaliwa added that there was an acute shortage of medicine and other medical supplies at public health facilities in Bukoba.
He said the situation in the affected areas was dire and government alone could not adequately respond to the disaster.
“Measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, it was the biggest earthquake to have been recorded in Tanzania. This is partly the reason we lack the capacity to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster of such a magnitude. We are used to mild tremors in the and around the Great Rift Valley, but this is unprecedented,” Mr Majaliwa said.
The Disaster Management Unit in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Kagera Regional Disaster Committee have jointly opened an account with CRDB Bank with the name KAMATI MAAFA KAGERA and number 015222 5617 300. The public can also contribute through M-Pesa, Tigo Pesa and Airtel Money mobile money numbers to be announced soon.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s request, the Dean of Diplomatic Corps and Zimbabwe’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Major General Edzai Chimonyo, said the international community stood by Tanzania at this difficult time and would pool resources to assist the country in the wake of the disaster.
China was among countries that responded immediately when its embassy handed over a symbolic cheque for Sh100 million at the function.
A representative of the Kuwaiti embassy said his government had already sent supplies worth Sh500 million, which were handed over to the Kagera regional commissioner on Monday.
The Kenyan High Commissioner, Mr Chirau Ali Mwakwere, said relief promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta was on its way to Bukoba from Kenya by road.
The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Alvaro Rodriguez, said the UN and staff of UN organisations in the country were mobilising resources, which would soon be handed over to the government.
He added that his office was experienced in handling humanitarian disasters and was ready to help in assessment, support coordination and long-term rehabilitation.
The IPP Executive Chairman, Mr Reginald Mengi, who is also chairman of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, pledged Sh110 million.
Businessman and philanthropist Mohammed Dewji, Zanzibar-based businessman and MP Salim Turky, Tanzania Breweries Limited and China Merchants Group each pledged Sh100 million.
Independent Power Tanzania Limited, Pepsi Tanzania, Puma Oil and Kamal Group each pledged Sh50 million.
Fuel trading firms OilCom, GBP and MOIL promised to rebuild Nyakato and Ihungo secondary schools, which were closed after they were severely damaged by the earthquake. Tanga Cement and Camel Cement pledged 1,000 bags of cement each, while Serengeti Breweries promised to donate 800 bags.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, East African, Regional and International Cooperation staff pledged Sh10 million.
Additional reporting by Phinias Bashaya in Bukoba