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Tanzania Sees Water Privatization-Driven Resistence, Violence

In Children and Youth, Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Environment, Freedom of Speech, HIV/SIDA, Housing, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Netroots, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, Terrorism, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on October 18, 2006 at 8:45 pm

I was living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2003, during the “build up” to the Iraq inavsion. I was about 4 miles from the fortress that was the newly opened US Embassy — it replaced the US embassy bombed in 1998.  It was painful to be an American in another city that had also been victimized by Al-Queda (I was coming from NYC, where I was on 9/11/01) . Many of the people in Dar, like many in NYC, saw the attck on Iraq as a pitiful distraction from the true perpetrators of NYC/DC attacks in 2001, but that is a story for another day…

While in Tanzania, I analyzed a World Bank-induced public utility privatization scheme that was clear to me to be an impending disaster. Beyond the complications that would arise from tiered access to safe water and increased prices, the sheer number of landholders without deeds in Dar es Salaam, I believed, tipped the equation of potential problems beyond even that of Bolivia’s wonderfully horrific water privatization scheme. (My opinionated, poorly written report on Dar’s plan is at my old blog. It includes interviews w officials from the city’s to-be-privatized water utility, representatives from the World Bank  and the Tanzanian government, as well as ‘everyday’ Tanzanians I played basketball with while there.)

My study focused on the land rights of residential properties, not that of unregistered and “unofficial” businesses. The problems, though, are similar in many ways. 

There is unfortunate news from Dar today. As reported by the BBC:

Thousands of Tanzanian market traders are up in arms after being moved away from the centre of the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

More than 40,000 traders have been relocated to the city’s remote Kigogo area. They say they now have to pay taxes before they can ply their wares…

But the government insists that the traders have been occupying space in the city centre illegally – preventing the installation of sewage and clean water pipes and reducing traffic in the busy area to a single lane… In March, two people were killed in violent clashes between police and street vendors in the northern town of Mwanza.

Mwanza is the section I lived in and Kigogo is way out there. I mean, it is WAY out there. There is no way these vendors will be able to do the same type of business as they would in downtown Dar. Especially since much of their business is based on downtown-oriented foot traffic, as opposed to foot traffic intending to go to the market.

This is part of a much larger conversation of the suburbanization of the poor.  It is happening in the US (usually boiled down to the concept of gentrification, although these ideas are not synonymous) and it is happening in countless cities throughout the world.

This will have incredibly negative effects on the poor, in terms of their access to social infrastructure — transportation will be losing funding, public utilities such as electricity and water are currently being installed in cities under the guise of the economies of scale (more water users and payers in the city makes the infrastructure investment feasible) while not being supplied to the suburbs. While saying nothing of the access to health services and disaster relief infrastructure,  first-and-foremost in my book, this facilitates the deeding of the unrecorded class and, subsequently, taxation.

If we can’t get our system implemented on them in their squatter town, the thought goes, let’s move their squatter town to where we can implement our system on them. It’s how the government makes money and maintains social control.

Plus, the thinking follows, there’s good times to be had in the city, let’s freshen it up a bit and give the tourists access to it — those low-wage workers will find a way to get into work for them ‘cuz they got nowheres else to work… except that export processing zone

P.S. Hey, investors! Don’t worry, those pesky “existing” Tanzanian exporters have been disallowed from investing in the EPZ… this is strictly for folks like you!

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  1. […] More than 40,000 traders have been rel …Posted by keeleyLink to original article […]

  2. […] Living in a slum, oftentimes on squatted land, and then, as this articles alludes to, water and utility infrastructure improvements shift people off squatted land and onto land where they will be formally recorded and deeded. If they’re not shifted, they are at the very least recorded and deeded. (Here’s a post about utility work and land displacement.) […]

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