Lift accident serves as reminder for mandatory public insurance

A Dar es Salaam resident passed the scene of yesterday's accident in which seven people were injured after an elevator crashed from the 14th floor to the ground floor at the Millennium Tower building. PHOTO | ERICKY BONIPHACE


  • Under public liability coverage, injured persons have the right to seek compensation from from the building owner for the injuries they experienced as a result of accident

Dar es Salaam. The collapse of a lift at an iconic building in Dar es Salaam should remind Tanzanians of the necessity of obligatory insurance coverage to protect the people from such calamities, experts said yesterday.

On Wednesday, a lift at the “Millennium Towers 2” in the Makumbusho suburb of Dar es Salaam collapsed, injuring seven persons who were rushed to the Kiruki Hospital for treatment.

Essentially, under public liability coverage, injured persons have the right to seek compensation from the building owner for the injuries experienced as a result of the accident.

However, despite the fact that the government amended the Insurance Act CAP, 394 last year through the Finance Act 2022 to broaden the scope of mandatory insurance to include public markets, commercial buildings, imported goods, and marine vessels, the specific legal provision remains dormant due to a lack of regulations to govern it.

However, Mr Phostine Oyuke, public relations officer at the Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (Tira), told The Citizen yesterday that the authority [Tira] had already completed the task of compiling the regulations, which were now in the hands of experts at the ministry of Finance and Planning to be approved.

He stated that the victims of Wednesday’s catastrophe must file a claim for public liability or occupiers liability in order to receive compensation.

“Victim compensation is supposed to be provided even in the absence of mandatory coverage,” he said.

According to him, even in the absence of obligatory coverage, it remained the responsibility of building owners to insure such amenities against unanticipated calamities.

“Doing so would also cover people who may find themselves in various accidents within the area. The goal is to help communities who are affected to be able to continue with life instead of suffering losses due to disability,” he said.

It was against such a background the chairman of the Association of Tanzania Insurers (ATA) Mr Khamis Suleiman told The Citizen yesterday that it was about time the regulations for compulsory insurance cover were expedited because disasters happen at any time without notice and mostly the victims are human beings.

“It is almost a year now since the law was passed by the parliament but its implementation has not yet started because the regulations are still in the ministry….since such catastrophic happenings could take place in various locations, including in football grounds, there is an urgent need to expedite the process,” he noted.

A trainer, researcher and consultant in risk management and insurance Mr CallingGod Temu said arranging insurance was required prior to the incidents whenever they happen.

He said the government, through Tira, has taken steps to enhance the necessity of having insurance through an amendment of the Insurance Act last year.

“The demand to have insurance for public buildings is important and in a case like what happened at Millennium Towers, insurance could help. We need real steps towards implementation of the amendments,” he said.

He said there were so many incidents involving people getting injured in public places; property of customers getting damaged in business premises; people getting body injuries on the premises and that most times that often, all the victims receive were a mere just a verbal ‘Samahani’ (Sorry) and life proceeds like nothing had happened.

The Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF) public relations manager, Mr James Mlowe assured the public that all those who have suffered injuries from the elevator accident will receive the highest level of treatment and ensure that they return to their normal state.

He said insurance has a long process and that at the moment, what they were doing was to make sure that the victims return to their original health conditions.

“We are still waiting for the report from the doctors. Upon completion of all the processes, we will then compile a general report explaining what happened and the steps that will be taken to ensure that customers continue to trust our building,” he noted.

The Commander for the Fire and Rescue Department in Kinondoni District, Ms Christina Sunga said the owner of the building was responsible for ensuring that all the infrastructure of the building was safe for use and for the safety of users.

She said as they do repairs in other areas, elevator location was also important, adding that the installation instructions, for the relevant use, whether for cargo or people, have a set time for maintenance.

“Building owners should follow the instructions for the maintenance of those materials, and users should consider the correct use of materials in accordance with the instructions, signs, and various safety restrictions for users,” she said.

Commander Sunga added technicians who provide maintenance services should observe the safety rules when doing maintenance, and security by providing notices, danger signs, and prohibitions of not using the material located in maintenance.

For his part, elevator technician Mr Antipas Fabian said elevator failures have been happening, and the lesson to be learned is for the building owners to accept the advice from experts, when an error occurs they should be quick to deal with it.