Thursday, 20 May 2010

Mwanza petty traders clash with city militiamen

From The Citizen, Dar es Salaam
By Jane Kajoki in Mwanza

Police officers here yesterday were forced to use tear gas canisters to disperse irate small-scale traders, who were in a fierce battle against the Mwanza City askaris.

The small-scale traders, popularly known as machingas, hurled stones towards the askaris they accused of harassing them and abusing their (machingas’) rights in the city.

Various activities were almost paralysed at the city centre, as traders were forced to close their business and run for their lives.

The machingas continue hurling stones towards the city askaris regardless of the tear gas, complaining that the askaris were used to confiscating their commodities.

The askaris imposed exorbitant amount of money in fines whenever they attempted to clam back their commodities, they said.

Some of their commodities could not be recovered even after paying for fines amounting to Sh 50,000, which often surpassed the amount of their capital they used for investing in their petty trades.

With tears dropping down his cheecks, one of the petty traders, Mr Ibrahim Shomali, said: “Should the local authorities allocate special areas for us to conduct out trades, regular clashes with the law enforcers will be history.”

About 10 petty traders were arrested by the city askaris during the fracas.

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