In Tanzania, the bustling market of Kariakoo has experienced an unprecedented three-day closure, with more than 1,000 shops remaining shut. Traders are protesting against a newly implemented tax, marking a rare public demonstration against the government. Situated in the financial capital of Dar es Salaam, Kariakoo is renowned for its size and popularity.
The shutdown of stores commenced on Monday, as traders united in their call to end what they perceive as “multiple taxes, harassment by police and the tax collectors.” Their grievances stem from the introduction of a new tax last month. During an ongoing meeting with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, one trader expressed, “We pay a lot of taxes, but the closure of shops was prompted by the demand to register our stores and pay the new store tax.” The burden of import taxes was also highlighted, as traders voiced their frustration over having to pay for goods twice – once upon importation and once again for storage.
The traders view this as a form of double taxation, an unjust practice that hampers their businesses. Prime Minister Majaliwa addressed the traders at the commencement of the meeting, assuring them that their concerns would be heard. “You have a serious demand, and we are here to listen to your grievances,” he stated. He further promised to provide protection for those speaking out, encouraging them to openly express their concerns. The Prime Minister was accompanied by ministers and tax officials, emphasizing the government’s commitment to addressing the issue at hand.
The closure of shops in Kariakoo, a vital commercial hub engaged in trade with neighboring countries and other regions, coincides with Tanzania’s gradual progression towards greater freedom under President Samia Suluhu Hassan. President Hassan assumed office two years ago following the tenure of her predecessor, John Magufuli, who was known for his authoritarian rule. Magufuli, who passed away in 2021 after six years in power, earned the nickname “Bulldozer” due to his uncompromising policies.
The traders’ protest serves as an indication of the changing landscape in Tanzania, where citizens are becoming more vocal about their concerns and demanding accountability from the government. The closure of Kariakoo market reflects the growing dissatisfaction among traders, who feel burdened by excessive taxation and unnecessary obstacles in conducting their business operations. President Hassan’s administration faces the challenge of finding a balance between revenue generation and supporting the local business community.
As the dialogue between the traders and the government unfolds, both parties must work towards a mutually beneficial solution. It is crucial to address the concerns raised by the traders regarding multiple taxes, harassment, and double taxation. By fostering an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and fair trade practices, Tanzania can promote economic growth and stability while ensuring that the burdens faced by its citizens are alleviated. The willingness of the government to engage in discussions and listen to the traders’ grievances is a positive step towards finding a resolution that supports the interests of all parties involved.