Tanzania government picks team to investigate response to tanker explosion

Monday August 12 2019

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa speaks in

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa speaks in Morogoro yesterday before the burial of 60 of the 71 people killed in the fuel tanker explosion and fire on Saturday. PHOTO | PMO 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collous1999 lkolumbia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The government has formed a commission of inquiry to investigate how the relevant public institutions responded to Saturday’s deadly fuel tanker blast and fire in Morogoro, which killed 71 people.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa made the announcement in Morogoro yesterday when he officiated at the burial of some of the victims on behalf of President John Magufuli.

He told thousands of mourners that the commission, whose members would be named later, was required to submit its findings not later than Friday, this week.

“We are looking forward to a comprehensive report that leaves no questions unanswered in order to help the government decide its next course of action,” Mr Majaliwa said.

The Prime Minister added that the investigation aims to enable the government establish how the relevant State institutions responded in the wake of a number of unanswered questions following the worst such incident in Tanzania and one of the worst in Africa in recent years.

“The accident occurred at around 8am at the heart of the municipality. It happened at a time public servants were supposed to be on duty. We therefore want to know whether there was any dereliction of duty and who was responsible.”

Mr Majaliwa said the government and the general public, for example, wanted to know how long it took emergency services – including police and members of the Fire and Rescue Force – to arrive at the scene of the accident.

He also wondered why people with an assortment of containers, were allowed to rush to the scene and freely scramble for petrol gushing out of the overturned lorry before they were caught up in a massive blast and fire, which killed dozens on the spot.

“We want to know whether there was anybody who was supposed to prevent people from approaching the scene, but didn’t do so,” Mr Majaliwa said, adding that the death toll from the disaster had reached 71, with 59 survivors receiving treatment at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro and Dodoma regional hospitals.

Six of the victims died in hospital, while a seventh died as he was being airlifted to Muhimbili National Hospital for specialised treatment.

Mr Majaliwa cautioned the media against publishing statistics on the accident from unofficial sources, adding that from now on the Morogoro regional commissioner’s office would be solely responsible for briefing journalists on the aftermath of the accident.

He criticised the habit of people rushing to accident scenes to steal from vehicles and victims.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for disaster management, Ms Jenista Mhagama, said DNA samples had been collected from unidentified victims to make it possible to identify them in the coming days.

“Some of the victims and survivors have been identified. We want to ensure that everybody involved in this unfortunate incident is positively identified,” she said.

Ms Mhagama added that a special unit had been formed to provide psychological support and counselling to those affected by the tragedy.