Magufuli sacks Tanzania port bosses

President John Magufuli

DAR ES SALAAM. The government yesterday kicked out almost the entire top brass at the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) in a move that saw director general Awadhi Massawe and the authority’s board chairman Prof Joseph Msambichaka removed.

Permanent Secretary for Transportation Dr Shaban Mwinjaka under whose docket TPA belongs was also shown the door as President John Magufuli sustained the pressure on corruption and lack of accountability in the public sector.

Hobbling operations at the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRL) where Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at a recent inspection established that TSh13 billion had been misused, were some of the reasons that also cost the PS his job.

The president’s decision was communicated yesterday by Mr Majaliwa at a press conference in his office in Dar es Salaam as the new Head of State seeks to right up things at TPA and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), seen as key revenue income areas for the cash strapped government.

The PM said Dr Magufuli acted due to failure to address other long rooted administrative flaws within TPA.
Other than those sent packing by the president, Mr Majaliwa announced the dismissal of four senior TPA officers and eight middle level managers, bringing to about 25, TPA officers sent home in the current purge. He directed that all the 12 be arrested to help in the ongoing investigation to recover billions lost in tax evasion.

Mr Majaliwa who was flanked at the press conference by Chief Secretary Ombeni Sefue warned that the administration will not tolerate connivance to steal from public coffers by a clique of corrupt employees and some private citizens.

“The port is an essential place and if well managed it can bring in lots of revenues which will boost the national income. The government is not going to tolerate the few individuals or a gang, out to use their offices to sabotage the systems and steal the revenues in any way,” said Majaliwa.

The axe on TPA and at the ministry headquarters was long coming since the discovery of nearly 3,000 cargo containers that had been cleared recently from the port without paying taxes, estimated at TShs80billion. Eight suspects including senior TRA officials were charged in court on Friday with abetting this matter.
The PM has made two successive impromptu visits to the port, on November 27 and December 4 this year to uncover the rot that has seen top brass at TRA also affected.

“These are the top officials without whose authority no movement of containers from the port to ICDs would take place. They would have easily known that containers had been cleared without due taxes being paid but they did not take any action,” said the PM.

President Magufuli also on Thursday last week provided a seven day grace period to businessmen who have evaded tax to go and voluntarily pay or face arrest and court charges by the end of the ultimatum. On Friday, TRA records showed that TShs6billion which part of the lost revenues had already been collected.

Mr Majaliwa also hinted on his Thursday impromptu visit to the Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) head offices and said he has so far learnt that more than Tshs13billion had been misused. “The investigation is ongoing and we will immediately take actions when we are done with it, and we will inform you of it. We have a vision of stronger and operational TRL and the government is going to take all required steps to realise that,” he said.