VP: Weve to improve road transport

HOW roadworthy are the vehicles that ferry children to and from schools on a daily basis?

This was among the concerns raised by people who assembled at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha yesterday to pay last respects to 32 pupils, two teachers and the driver who died in a horrific motor vehicle accident at the weekend.

Vice President Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan, who led thousands of Tanzanians tobid farewell to the deceased reminded authorities the importance of ensuring that vehicles that ferried school children met road safety standards.

She issued a stern warning to reckless drivers, simultaneous with assuring the aggrieved families of the governments full support in the wake of the gravely sad incident. President John Magufuli and the entire government would like to extend their consolation and support to parents, teachers, relatives and residents of Arusha for the great loss, which is also a big blow to the nation as these children were future leaders, scientists and builders of the country, stated Mama Samia.

The Vice President directed school owners, parents, the police and other authorities across the nation to ensure that vehicles that carry children were not only roadworthy but also adhered to safety regulations.

These include the way the pupils were seated as well as ensuring that their drivers were fully qualified to control passenger vehicles. All passenger vehicles must carry the number of people specified by the manufacturers; owners should not tamper with their seating arrangements or be tempted to increase carrying capacity, the visibly concerned Mama Samia stressed.

Shortly after the accident, the Arusha Regional Traffic Officer, Mr Nuru Suleiman, stated that, from now on, school buses will be placed under close scrutiny as it is likely that owners used the advantage of gullible parents to serve them in old contraptions.

Kenyan Head of State, President Uhuru Kenyatta, sent his condolences through the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr Fred Matiangi, who assured Tanzanians that all Kenyans were with them during this difficult time.

Earlier on, the Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, paid a visit to the bereaved families living in Arusha as well as the Lucky Vincent School, to extend her condolences.

She warned Tanzanians against using the issue of dead pupils to circulate Unpleasant speculations, including rumours that more pupils had died, and faked reports of parents dying of shock as these only served to hurt the families most affected by the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament and the Office of the Speaker yesterday contributed 100m/- for bereaved families.

The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Job Ndugai, informed the grief stricken National Assembly that it was proposed by both camps that the legislators should forfeit their allowance of the day to contribute towards the families of the deceased.

I have been advised by both camps, meaning the opposition and the ruling party, that we should surrender our one days allowance as our condolences to the bereaved families, he said. The current parliament has a total of 392 legislators out of the 393 slots, and allowance per day for every legislator is 220,000/-.

The total amount given yesterday amounted to 100 million/- which includes the contributions of the Speakers Office. Earlier yesterday, Members of Parliament were gripped by shock as Speaker Ndugai recalled the grisly road accident.

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