Dr Haji Semboja

Dr Haji Semboja

?You have a lot of potential in both natural resources and human capital to continue relying on subsidies from Treasury,? said University of Dar es Salaam Senior Economics Lecturer, Dr Haji Semboja.

Dr Semboja said during a recent National Prisons Policy draft review meeting held in Bagamoyo that TPS has the economic potential to wean itself from Treasury subventions.

Some of the TPS potential is in its existing factories which include a furniture and timber processing plant in Arusha, a leather products manufacturing factory at Karanga in Moshi, livestock farm at Mtego wa Simba prison in Morogoro and a paddy irrigation scheme at Idete in Kilombero just to mention a few.

?We are working towards unlocking the massive potential which we have by partnering with the private sector which will bring capital and technology through private public partnership,? said Commissioner General of Prisons, John Minja. CGP Minja said some 24 different projects seeking private partners to inject capital have been identified countrywide and they include Karanga shoe factory prison in Moshi, Kilimanjaro region, Wazo Hill prison in Dar es Salaam where the Force has already entered agreement with Tanzania Portland Cement Company to extract limestone for cement manufacturing.

Through its subsidiary company, Prison Corporation Sole, the Force through CGP Minja has invited private investors to join hands in exploiting. ?We welcome other private investors to come and join us through PPP and extract building materials in our prisons in Arusha, Dodoma, Mbeya, Mwanza, Mtwara and Tanga. Mr Minja said almost all sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, construction and gemstone mining and carpentry are available to private investors. ?We want to transform Tanzania Prisons by improving efficiency and modernising its infrastructure including staff houses,? he pointed out.

In Morogoro?s Idete prison, the over 7,400 hectares prison facility is already making millions of shillings thanks to a Saro 5 rice seeds multiplication contract given by Agriculture Seeds Agency. ?Last year we produced 317,727 kilograms of seed rice which earned us 254.9m/- from ASA,? said Idete prison Officer in Charge, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, Beno Hunja.

Mr Hunja said Idete prison will increase production of rice seeds next year when a 2.8bn/- irrigation project financed by Treasury takes off with 1,000ha earmarked for production. Morogoro Regional Prisons Officer, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, Dr Kato Rugainunura said the region has capacity to feed all prisons in the country. ?We can become a bread basket for all prisons in the country because apart from Idete, we have livestock at Mtego wa Simba for milk and relish, maize, beans and poultry farming at various prisons facilities in the region,? said Dr Rugainunura while stressing that only capital and technology are required to tap the vast agriculture potential in the region with 12 prisons.

Thus while some prisons are already making headway in improving production, others are looking for private partners to boost their production. ?When we started production in 1970s, we were making 400 pairs of shoes daily but because of various problems including aged machinery, we currently do 200 pairs only per day,? said Kilimanjaro RPO, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, Venant Kayombo. Mr Kayombo who also served as Officer In Charge of Karanga shoe factory prison before rising to his current position, said production had fallen to 100 pairs by 2009 when Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda visited the factory and saw the appalling condition of equipment hence ordering Treasury to allocate more funds.

?We have since invested in new machinery and production has increased but we are still lagging behind the 400 pairs per day as was the case in 1970s,? Kayombo noted. A Turkish investor has already shown interest to partner with the Force in boosting the shoe factory whose primary assignment is to manufacture shoes for all members of the country?s defence forces.

At Arusha?s furniture and timber processing factories which was nationalized in 1970s, the story is similar. Aged machinery, less capital to buy raw materials such as logs and marketing of the high quality furniture all need huge capital injection which can only come from private investors. Regional Prisons Officer, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, Hamis Nkubas said the factory which is already serving many government institutions including parliament and district councils, is not operating at full capacity.

?Most of the machinery that we are using is very old with no spare parts available hence affecting our factory?s productivity,? said Mr Nkubas. He said the furniture factory is also facing shortage of working capital to meet growing demand of its products by clients from across the country. ?I know that currently there are efforts being done by CGP Minja to look for private investors who may inject capital in the factory so that we can modernize our machinery,? Nkubas said.

Arusha prisons furniture factory is currently manufacturing high end natural hardwood office furniture for Londigo district council, parliamentarians who want to furnish their constituency offices and individuals. SACP Nkubas further noted that the factory is struggling to buy raw materials including logs which are processed by the same factory because of budget constraints but also needs to erect a modern high rise building with show rooms for products within the factory premises. Assistant Project Controller, Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, Victor Ngwale said since 1970s, the factory has not only served private and public customers but also fulfilled its key role of giving prisoners skills.

?We have trained many people who were prisoners and now they are either self employed or directly employed by somebody,? said ASP Ngwale. But the factory has also acquired 70 modern sewing machines including computerized double and triple stitching machines, automatic button fixing machines and design platforms. ?We have been given 100 sewing machines by the CGP, 30 are still in Dar es Salaam,? said SACP Nkubas.

By FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE Tanzania Daily News

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