Barely two weeks ago, before the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO), upped power tariffs, 20,000/- used to buy 75 power units.
However, after the raise, the same amount of money now brings in only 40 units, less than a half of what one used to get two weeks ago! And there is nothing that one can describe this latest ugly development other than an economic disaster.
Yet there is no way this country can forge ahead without the use of energy which is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain due to its rising cost!
But nothing frustrates Tanzanians, and in particular those in the know, than the knowledge that one of the things that has led this country to this end is our decision to continue to cling to white elephants such as the IPTL (Independent Power Tanzania Limited) that has over the years forced Tanesco (through lopsided contracts entered into by the second phase government of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi) to continue paying such an institution billions of shillings in capacity charges whether or not they have produced power for the country!
There was a time when some smart, thinking guys in the parliament rightly advised the government to buy off IPTL, hence stop those exploitative capacy charges that Tanesco has been paying the IPTL every month. But the government refused to listen to the advice for reasons that are difficult to understand!
The upping of power tariffs by TANESCO means that from now onwards, prices for a number of industrial products, including food, is going to sky-rocket.
While power tariff is going to the roof, the government has continued to drag its feet over construction of standard railroads, preferring instead construction of roads whose standards leave a lot to be desired.
Had the government embarked on construction of standard railroads immediately it first came to power in 2005, the cost for transportation of goods would have remained low.
But we all know why the government has been dragging its feet on construction of standard railroad. Most of the leaders, both in the government and the ruling party, own hundreds of trucks and buses that make a kill day in day out!
And because of that, they would not like to see construction of standard railroad network because it would rob them of the business they enjoy through their trucks and buses.
This also explains why the Tanzania Zambia Railway, TAZARA, has repeatedly failed to operate economically as it is always starved, deliberately, of goods by trucks!
However, the government and its ruling party ought to know one thing, unless they do something about rising transportation and power costs now, they would live to regret!
This is because rising transport and power tariff would sooner than later start to bite not among the holloi polloi, but rather on the middle class that has for a long time supported successive CCM governments!
What should the government do? It needs to do away with institutions like the IPTL and others now, and free in the process, Tanesco from paying such capacity charges.
Once Tanesco is freed from such financial shackles, it would easy for the power utility company to reduce power tariffs.
The government has to take the same commendable measures it took a few weeks ago when it reversed its earlier decision to slap 1000/- tax on sim cards.
The government has to deal with the increased power tariff as a matter of urgency before it’s too late. It’s important for the CCM government to realize that the 2015 general elections would be decided on the economy rather than political acrobatics.
And, no matter what happens to the opposition, singly or as a block, the ruling party’s success or otherwise in the forthcoming general elections would depend on whether the government has succeeded in fixing the country’s economic problems.
You reduce economic problems to a minimum and it would be easy for the rest of the jig-saw to fall in place.
The ball is in the ruling party and its government!