DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzania’s president John Pombe Magufuli on Tuesday suspended the Uhuru Torch Race for 2020, as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which is wreaking havoc across the globe.
Speaking to residents of Dar es Salaam while inspecting the on-going Ubungo Interchange project, President Magufuli, said the race, which had been scheduled to be launched on April 2, in Zanzibar will no longer be held as planned in response to COVID-19 outbreak.
“Uhuru Torch race is one of the events that draw large crowds, after deliberation with the Prime Minister and Vice-President I have decided to cancel the race, let us continue to mobilise and follow the prescribed hygiene measures, coronavirus is deadly,” he quoted by local media.
Mr. Magufuli directed that the funds that were set for the race should be directed to the preparation of health facilities that will be responsible for handling possible coronavirus cases.
The Uhuru Torch is one of the National Symbols of Tanzania. The kerosene torch symbolizes freedom and light. The Uhuru Torch race takes place every year starting from different places.
The measure imposed in Tanzania is akin to what Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Kenya, and South Africa have put in place.
Ban on public gatherings, closure of schools and other public places and a big emphasis on preventive measures.
On Sunday, the Minister of State in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, Mr. Selemani Jafo banned on-going preparations of the inter- primary and secondary school games as well as calling for strict control of Form six graduation ceremonies.
Africa is seeing a steady spread of the coronavirus across the continent, with five new countries confirming cases on March 14, 2020, taking the number of affected nations to 26 out of 54 African countries.
As of yesterday, about 6,600 people had died globally from COVID-19, while more than 173,281 cases have been confirmed in 159 countries.
President used his tour of Dar es Salaam, Coast, and Morogoro regions on Tuesday to remind Tanzanians of the dire threat of the novel coronavirus, citing its healthy and economic impacts, as he pleaded for everyone to observe preventive measures.
Earlier, briefing the President on the Ubungo Interchange project, Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) Chief Executive Officer, Eng Patrick Mfugale said the project has reached 70 per cent of construction and will be completed by December 2020.
The 230bn/- project expected to tame traffic snarls-up on Dar es Salaam roads, is expected to save billions of shillings Tanzania’s economy loses daily.
According to Dr. Magufuli more than 660bn/- has been set aside for Dar es Salaam region, where a number of road infrastructure projects are being implemented.
“You should all be proud as the funds used to accomplish these projects are 100 percent are being raised from Tanzanians,” he said President Magufuli also inspected the progress of the expansion of Kimara-Kibaha road with a length of 19.2 kilometers that its construction has reached 70 percent and expected to be completed by January 2021 at the cost of 140bn/-.