On September 17th, Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli, drove his SUV and made a surprise appearance at a construction site in the commercial city Dar-es-Salaam. This would not be the first time he does such a thing.
A few meters away from the site there is a very old slaughter house that handles dozens of cattle, sheep and goats. However, its handling capacity is very low compared to the market demand for meat.
His government had in June authorized construction of a new modern slaughter house at Vingunguti capable of handling more than 1000 cattle and goats daily.
While at the site swarmed with heavily armed commandoes of the Tanzanian Peoples Defence Force, Magufuli noticed that the construction site had been fenced off with iron sheets nailed onto wooden poles.
He chose not to use the main entrance to the construction site. He ordered his commandoes to tear apart a section of the fence and create a way through and within minutes that was done. Magufuli bent and walked through the improvised hole and stepped into the construction site.
Magufuli walked straight to workers wearing helmets scooping large chunks of soil. He asked them for how long have they been working at the site. They told him it was two months since they started.
Within minutes the site engineer had been tipped off and arrived quickly. At the site, Magufuli only saw a six meter deep sink that will later become the basement for the proposed new slaughter house which will also have an extra one floor above.
According to the site engineer, the slaughter house has been budgeted for Tshs17billion and will take a period of 18months to complete. This seemed not very convincing to President Magufuli as he walked out of the hole in the fence and took tour at a very dirty old slaughter house.
Magufuli greeted residents grouping around the old slaughter house. They knew he was going to address them just like they have been seeing him on TV doing the same surprise visits in various parts of the country.
The president excuses himself that he would not address them while standing around them that he prefers to climb into his SUV that is fitted with a mega public address system. The commandoes opened the door for him and he jumped in and emerged through the open roof with a microphone.
He greets them as they interrupt with screams of excitement and joy but chips in saying. “I want to ask the contractor in charge of building the new slaughter house. When did you get this contract and how much will it cost and when should we expect completion of constriction?”
As the contractor engineer took the microphone and dwelt on pleasantries, Magufuli interjected and cautioned him to answer the questions and leave politics out of the discussion. This sent residents into ecstatic screams.
Magufuli questioned why construction began three months late yet the tender was issued in June. The president also didn’t understand why construction of such a small building would cost a colossal sum of money Tshs17billion?
Another disturbing discovery was how a mere consultant for this project would be paid Tshs20million monthly, “for just standing and watching as construction goes on”. It was also discovered that the slaughter house would host two automated salughtering machines which according to Magufuli have inflated costs.
He ordered that the building with a basement and one floor cannot take all 18 months to be completed.
“I have worked under infrastructure ministry, I know everything. It is stupid to claim that such a building would take 18 months to complete,” the furious Magufuli said adding that workers must immediately begin working day and night.
“Construction should be completed in December. I want to return to this place when everything is complete for official opening,” Magufuli ordered.
President Magufuli has been traversing the entire country meeting residents at surprise stop overs and handling cases that have been viewed as very complicated under previous regimes.
For example when he made a stopover in Geita, a mother of three told Magufuli that her husband had been knocked dead by a drunk driving police officer. This officer had instead been transferred to another location and had never been charged for this manslaughter.
“Mr President I have been moving from office to office seeking justice but all efforts have failed,” the crying mother told Magufuli who immediately ordered Inspector General of Police to instantly arrest and dismiss the errant police officer.
Magufuli later ordered all public officials around including, area member of parliament, District commissioners and mayor and police officers to immediately raise cash to support the woman.
In just 10 minutes a total of Tshs500000 was raised and given to the mother of three and Magufuli ordered for her protection.