Dar es Salaam. Jangwani residents have vowed they would not standby and watch as authorities pulled down their houses, saying they would fight to the bitter end unless the government showed them where to go.
They want Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadiki to explain to them the whereabouts of plots that were given to them by former President Jakaya Kikwete at Mabwepande on the outskirts of the city.
Yesterday, officials from the National Environment Management Council (Nemc) and the City Planning Office had to halt putting the ‘X’ mark on houses to be demolished after residents turned violent objecting to the exercise.
The fracas ensued in the morning as officials started putting the mark and residents reacted angrily.
The residents burnt used tyres on roads and threw stones at police officers who in turn resorted to firing teargas to try and disperse the angry people. Police officers had to call for more support from their colleagues to the area that had turned smoky.
It was tense as stones flew in the air, the police firing tear gas and a fire engine attempting to put off the fire that the people had started. Journalists too were not safe in the area as the people claimed that they had done nothing to help them, thus foricing reporters to seek police protection.
The drama lasted for five hours with the police patrolling the area until peace was restored.
Ms Mwasiti Ally, a food vendor and resident in the area, said she has lived there for the past 25 years, saying it was not her choice but life circumstances that had pushed her there.
She told The Citizen: “I’m ready to move out but on condition that I am guaranteed a plot elsewhere. The authorities have been talking about plots for so long, but none was forthcoming,” she said.
She claimed that out of the about 3,000 flood victims who had been promised plots at Mabwepande by the former administration some four years ago, only 45 were successful, while the others were left in dilemma.
The unyielding move by the residents of the flood-prone area is another hard nut to crack for President John Magufuli’s government.
Some residents even alleged that some big shots, including the RC had allocated the Mabwepande plots to their own relatives.
When contacted by The Citizen yesterday Mr Sadiki said the allegations were unfounded and were only meant to tarnish his image. He even challenged those who had evidence that he owned plots there to go and occupy them. “The plots at Mabwepande were set aside for the 634 victims of the 2011 Jangwani floods. Since then no plot has been given to anyone. I wonder why someone could come up with such serious allegations,” he remarked.
The RC directed this paper to inquire from the Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development ministry for clarifications on where the residents would be relocated to should their houses be pulled down.
Although the previous government had promised relocation of 2,800 flood victims on some 200 acres of land on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, only a few of them agreed to move.