More than 1,000 shops in Tanzania’s busiest market remained shut for a third day on Wednesday as traders protested a new tax, in a rare public protest against the government.
Stores in Kariakoo, a massive market located in the financial capital Dar es Salaam, closed their doors on Monday, calling for an end to “multiple taxes, harassment by police and the tax collectors” after the new levy came into effect last month.
“We pay a lot of taxes but the closure of shops was prompted by the demand to register our stores and pay the new store tax,” one of the traders said during an ongoing meeting with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Wednesday that was broadcast live on television.
“We always pay import taxes and we are required to pay for the same goods once they are in store,” said Elimringi Goodluck, another trader.
“That’s double taxation”, he added.
“You have a serious demand and we are here to listen to your grievances,” Majaliwa told the traders as he opened the meeting on Wednesday morning.
“Speak freely, I will protect you… Let’s be patient and note the challenges,” said Majaliwa who was accompanied by ministers and tax officials during the talks.
The closures at Kariakoo — a commercial hub that trades with other regions and neighbouring countries — came as the East African nation witnesses a gradual opening of freedoms under President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who came to power two years ago.
Hassan’s predecessor John Magufuli, who died in 2021 after six years of heavy-handed rule, was nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his hardline policies.