GOVERNMENT MUST TAKE THE LEAD IN PROTECTING OPEN SPACES

Monday August 08 2022
By The Citizen Reporter

Land use planning in Tanzania’s urban areas is a mess. The problem is most pronounced in Dar es Salaam, which is the country’s commercial capital and one of the world’s fastest growing metropolises.

It is like we have no town planning experts, while, in fact, we have plenty of them.

In the field of land and property management, Ardhi University, formerly known as Ardhi Institute, is reputedly one of the best institutions of higher learning in East and Central Africa.

So, what observers keep asking is: how come after more than six decades of independence 70 per cent of the residents of Dar es Salaam, for instance, continue to live or do business in areas that have not been surveyed?

Certainly, it cannot be due to lack of land surveyors! There are scores of land economy graduates with the requisite expertise in land planning and surveying out there looking for jobs that are somehow hard to come by.

What bogs down these fields is lack of political will as well as bureaucracy and attendant corruption.

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The former explains the failure of the powers that be to be categorical on how well land can be professionally utilised.

Red tape on matters of land acquisition and issuance of title deeds and building permits have provided fertile ground for unscrupulous officials to bend the land law with impunity—for personal gain, of course.

A senior official in the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlements Development was recently quoted urging people to “identify the open spaces in their neighbourhoods”, the idea being to involve members of the public in wider efforts to protect open spaces.

But cynics are bound to ask: do we still have open spaces remaining in our urban areas anyway? And, assuming there are, how can ordinary Tanzanians know that a certain area has been officially set aside as “an open space for public utility”? Is that not the work of government officials who should be monitoring what is going on right from the grassroots?


WE CAN BEAT BREAST CANCER

Breast cancer has in recent years become one of the most serious health problems afflicting our women. Though the precise data on those diagnosed with breast cancer countrywide is not readily available, the disease poses a grave threat to the health of women--our spouses, daughters, mothers and sisters.

All is not lost, though. With prompt action, the disease can be treated in the early stages. This calls for mass awareness campaigns to encourage women in their 20s and 30s to go for tests. We know for a fact that early detection is a vital step towards treatment.

This is why we wholeheartedly welcome the initiatives of the African Medical Investment, the Medical Women’s Association of Tanzania and the Tanzania Breast Cancer Foundation.

The interventions of these non-governmental organisations are vital since many poor Tanzanians cannot afford the cost of diagnosis, surgery or special hi-tech treatment. Our hospitals generally lack the required equipment. The government should address these limitations and equip district hospitals with what it takes to handle such cases.