Business Times; Friday, 7-13 Dec, 2007
By Eric Toroka
A Consumer survey conducted by the Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) has levered that the lever of consumer awareness in Tanzania is “very low” – particularly on consumer’s rights, perception and attitudes with respect to businesses accountability and responsiveness to consumer needs and interests in Tanzania.
The survey was conducted in five regions of Tanzania mainland – namely Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Coast and Mwanza – between February 1 and 27, 2007.
Speaking to Business Times in Dar es Salaam recently, Daimon Mwakyembe, and its executive director, Bernard Kihiyo, said the survey revealed that “there is very low Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Tanzania”.
Mwakyembe defined Corporate Social Responsibility as the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically responsive and accountable to consumers’ needs and interests. This concept generally entails about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society.
The survey revealed that there is poor public transportation system characterised by: congestion and delays; uncomfortable travelling conditions; poor vehicle condition; poor customer services; increased road accidents. Mwakyembe explained.
Moreover, it found out that there had been wrong overestimated, inflated bills from electricity and water utility bodies. The two are giving unreliable services characterized by frequent services characterized by frequent service breakdowns in most case without a notice. These include unregulated electric frequency; un- guaranteed water supply, poor quality of water which leads to the spread of water born diseases like typhoid and cholera.
The presences of counterfeit goods with are not durable, poor in quality, unsafe, false labelling and changing of expiry dates on products – food, cosmetics and medicine are also on the raise. It is believe that 40 per cent of the products in Tanzania markets are counterfeits, Mwakyembe added. Bernard Kihiyo added other forms of unethical business conducts seemed to look new while in reality they were not, giving the example of mobile phone on sale in most of the shop in Tanzania.
The survey revealed that in same cases human and animal drugs dispenses and managed by unprofessional personnel were very dangerous to the health of consumers.
Moreover, the study revealed that there were unjustifiable excessive high prices of goods and services in Tanzania market. For instance, early this year consumers experienced a sudden hike in the prices of petrol and petroleum products. It appears that dealers in oil are forming a cartel to fix prices in order to exploit consumers.
Mwakyembe clarified that the worst scenario of the survey can be viewed on the following; - Health Care with the concept of CSR; 1829 respondents have seen complex medical cases of alleged negligence by the way of consultation, diagnosis and treatment (cross infection), both medicinal and surgical that led to severe suffering of service recipient like the recent MOI theatre scandal and in some instance death occurred. The most difficulty question is how far medical/pharmaceutical practitioners be held responsible for their professional negligence?
Transport and transportation with the concept of CSR; 1279 respondents complained of the sharp increase in road accidents. Last year alone more than 2838 people lost their lives due to road accidents, leaving 155,000 others with permanent disabilities and without forgetting those who lost their properties.
In most cases accidents are caused by drivers’ negligence including operating with un-serviced cars, operating without having proper insurances to cover customers and their properties. The most difficulty question is how far should transport operators be held responsible for professional negligence? Mwakyembe queried, showing his shock