Somalilandsun: While government policies in pursuit of development are known to vary in a myriad of ways but leading to the same objective, recent decisions as pertains type of desire vehicles by the Government’s of Somaliland and Tanzania contrast widely.
This can be discerned by decisions pertaining to viable vehicles made in Hargeisa and Dodoma by President Muse Bihi and President John Magufuli respectively. The vehicles of same type were termed as useless in Somaliland while said to be useful and economic in Tanzania.
On Thursday 5th Nov, 2020 a directive banning the import of VITZ cars was issued as a result of deliberations of the 66th council of ministers virtual meeting chaired by President Bihi in Hargeisa.
Though the meeting came up with a number of good decisions geared towards enhancing traffic laws especially the ban on future importation of vehicles that are not adapted to the right-hand driving modes, the irk was terming the popular VITZ mini vans as unprofitable and socially unfriendly
Thence henceforth importation illegal implementation of the ban on left-hand steering wheeled vehicles and VITZ type minivans was tasked to relevant authorities namely the ministries of Transport, Commerce, Police and customs Department.
While it is undisputable that the country has become in a few years became host to a large number of Vitz minivans that are mostly utilized as taxis in most Somaliland towns and employer to hundreds if not thousands of youths.
The local vernacular nickname for the VITZ is “HOOYO HAA TAHRIBIN” (Son don’t migrate illegal) because it is an income generator for youths most of them graduates who owing to lack of employment opportunities in the country might have pursued the deadly Libya to Europe illegal immigration (Tahrib) route.
Despite being a youth employer these type of car is a low fuel guzzler thence popular as preferred mode of commuting by citizens of all ages and from all walks of life due to cheap cost , thence the shocked reaction by members of the public via various social media platforms , terming the decision not only wrong but unwarranted and unacceptable as well.
For a citizenry that is very well aware that the minivans are very benefit in various ways, the description of them being useless and socially unfriendly is very deeming because the entire cabinet , all senior government officials as well as the president himself use expensive fuel-guzzling and tinted 4×4 V8 cars, which the public say are not only useless but a major dent to the public coffers
When president President John Magufuli assumed office for the first in 2015 his first state action on January 31 was to ban all senior public officials from using cars known to be fuel guzzlers
In his ban he ordered that all 4 x 4s and other luxury cars be seized and sold in a public auction and the proceeds used to provide public goods and services.
The president further ordered that all ministers, the chief justice, ambassadors and senior state officials choose between a Probox, Passo, Platz, Vitz, duet or any car that is less than 1400CC.
The move caused public anxiety in a country where Magufuli had been lauded for his austerity measures and revolutionary ideas that seemed to have eclipsed even the opposition.
“This is a public service not a gravy train. Anybody who came here to make riches should quit and join the private sector. All ministers and senior state house officials are here to work not to seek obscene opulence. I don’t want to see them drive those big cars (4X4s), if anyone insists, please let them go buy their own cars, we (the government) shall fuel for them,” he said.
And Magufuli added: “To build this country like I promised during campaigns, we must make sacrifices and that includes sacrificing those unnecessary comforts for the small cars. I have ordered the police to impound any such big cars driven by state officials on the road and those officials be prosecuted. We are not here to rob the average Tanzanian but to make his life better.”
Not only did President Magufuli do away with fuel guzzlers within the public service he had earlier banned use of presidential red carpets in Tanzania state and other functions.
Although public opinion has strongly opposed President Bihi’s cabinet decision to ban Vits minivans and while his officials in his administration continue to use luxury cars that use a litre of petrol just to just, it is unknown whether President Bihi will heed the public outcry , back down thus reverse that decision.
BUT IN SONALILAND ESPECIALLY UNDER PRESIDENT BIHI WHO STANDS BY HIS DECISIONS, THIS IS A TALL ORDER THENCE WAIT AND SEE and as COVID-19 became the Waterloo to the Trump presidency VITZ might be that of Bihi come Somaliland presidential elections.