28 Mar 2009

(Photo credit:JIJI LA DAR)

Mayor threatens legal action against street name changers

Dar es Salaam

A TOP local government official in Dar es Salaam has roundly rebuked the ongoing trend of people clandestinely changing street names in the city without following proper channels, including getting the blessing of the City Fathers.

According to the Mayor of the Ilala Municipality, Abuu Jumaa, legal action will certainly be taken against such people once sufficient proof is obtained.

Referring specifically to a query by THISDAY on the name-change applied to one of the city’s most historically famous thoroughfares Kisutu Street, now apparently going by the name of ’PRAMUKH SWAMI’, Mayor Jumaa stated unequivocally:

’’My office has never received an official application to change the Kisutu Street name into an Indian name. Therefore, such an action is an insubordination to the city authority.’’

The mayor’s statement is a direct contradiction of that made last year by the former deputy mayor of the same Ilala Municipality, Mohamed Yakoub, who asserted in an interview with THISDAY that the Kisutu Street name-change had been given a formal stamp of approval.

’’All the (Ilala) municipality legal procedures were properly followed in changing the name of not only Kisutu Street, but also some other streets around the city centre,’’ Yakoub said.

But according to current mayor Jumaa, there are no records whatsoever showing the change of the traditional Kisutu name to ’PRAMUKH SWAMI.’

THISDAY last year ran a series of articles on the increasing trend of various streets within Dar es Salaam’s central business district, suddenly acquiring bizarre-sounding new names in highly mysterious circumstances.

It has been noted that skepticism is on the rise amongst members of the general public over the supposed ’secrecy’ shrouding the whole exercise, with open suggestions that corruption at certain local government levels may be involved.

The Dar es Salaam City Director, Bakari Kingobi, has conceded in the past that such street name changes could very easily cause confusion particularly for tourists who may be trying to find their way around the metropolis using officially-approved city maps.

According to Kingobi, only the city authorities have the mandate to administer such street name changes.

’’There is only one city authority - not two - responsible for administering such name-changes to the city streets. Anyone who tries to do so without informing this city authority, is violating the law and is liable for prosecution,’’ he said.

Speaking to THISDAY yesterday, Ilala Municipality mayor Jumaa said it amounted to sacrilege for anyone to change a street name on the basis of racial, tribal, or religious beliefs.

’’There are some basic criteria used to endorse suggestions for street name changes. Bias of any sort is not one of them,’’ he asserted.

He also said streets with traditionally famous names like Kisutu should be left alone, while anyone wanting to recommend a street name to suit their own needs should look for streets with no names at all � of which apparently there are still many.

According to Jumaa, the municipal authorities will seek explanations from the local government authorities regarding the Kisutu Street name-change in particular.

Any official found to have been responsible for wrongdoing in the whole episode will be taken to task through legal channels, he added.



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