A visit to Kariakoo in the heart of Dar es Salaam reveals a disturbing reality—that of petty traders thronging the streets, making the movement of pedestrians and vehicles almost impossible.
Another revelation is the fact that most of the items sold by these petty traders are the very ones sold in shops on the same streets. The difference, however, is that shop owners pay rent and various taxes and levies, while petty traders pay almost nothing.
This is an unfair arrangement, which the government is now determined to tackle.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan recently directed regional commissioners and district commissioners across the country to come up with a solution meant to ensure that hawkers continue to eke out a living without becoming a nuisance to formal traders in urban centres.
This is a tricky and sensitive matter in many ways. Politically, petty traders and their families are crucial when it comes to elections. Confronting them might mean a loss of votes.
Economically, hawkers pay almost no direct taxes from their daily undertakings.
This is challenging because as citizens, they too need to play their role in building the nation through tax payment. Hence, the need to widen the tax base to rope them in.
From a sociological point of view, the hawkers (or machingas as they are popularly known in Tanzania) are living proof of the extent of unemployment in the country.
To sort out this dilemma, regional authorities and experts should think critically and find lasting solutions to the causes of the explosion of machinga numbers in Tanzania.
Among the causes are rapid urbanisation, increased population growth, poor town planning without allocating places for such traders and laxity in enforcement of by-laws.
We commend the move by President Hassan, but call upon the authorities and experts to tackle the causes rather than the outcome of this sociological and economic phenomenon.
MAKE RURAL WOMEN a PRIORITY
Despite rural women being a major part of the agricultural labour force performing most of the unpaid care work in rural areas, they continue to be held back in fulfilling their potential. Investing in rural women is important in a nation’s development. Given the chance and equal access to productive resources, women can help wipe out hunger from the face of the world.
Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women, but entire communities and nations. Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have more malnourished children. It is strange that even in those countries with the best records there is under-representation of women in political and business decision-making.
Training girls and women in rural areas is another requirement for empowering them. They need to be given vocational education in agriculture. There is a good reason for this. The energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource.
Giving women inexpensive loans, teaching them scientific ways of farming and preserving food products, and creating a market where they can sell their products without the intervention of middlemen can improve the living standards of rural women.