Q&A – 4 April 2022

Liability for delayed flight

Last year I booked a flight with a local airline for a business trip to Mwanza where I had a meeting with an investor in aquaculture. The plane was to depart at 0600hrs and I arrived at Julius Nyerere International Airport on time. However, the plane did not depart that day for what the airline called operational reasons. I was offered an alternative flight the next day, but it was too late as the investor was travelling back to his homeland that afternoon. I missed the business opportunity which was worth hundreds of millions of shillings. Advise me how to claim the business loss I have suffered?   
SK, Dar 

One of the forums for lodging your complaint is the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) Consumer Complaints Unit (the Unit). The functions of the Unit is receiving and following up complaints from consumers submitted to the Authority; investigate all complaints; attempt to resolve complaints amicably; and present findings and recommendations for action to the Committee in the event that a complaint cannot be resolved. The Unit is required to ensure that complaints are treated in a uniform manner. In essence, the Unit does a mediation role only as its decision is not binding but the decision of the Committee is binding.

Such passenger complaints are governed by the Civil Aviation (Procedure for Complaints Handling) Rules, 2009 (the Rules). However, the Rules put limits on the amount for which a passenger can claim as damages for delays caused by the airlines. Regulation 25 limits the liability of the carrier, for each passenger to Tanzanian Shillings equivalent to USD 5,000. Hence this is the maximum that you can get if you succeed.

Additionally, the Committee can also award you costs for engaging an advocate for appearance before the Committee and refund for the cost of the ticket which you had paid for your trip to Mwanza.

Fertilizer burned my crops

I bought three bags of fertilizer from a vendor at our township for my garden. The bags bore the label purporting to show the fertilizer had all the primary nutrients. I used the fertilizer but after a week, all of the plants in my garden started to wither. My neighbor also faced the same problem. My neighbor and I went to the vendor and threatened to sue him. The vendor compromised and admitted that he was repacking the fertilizer he bought from the wholesaler and added some other substances. We also noted that the vendor is not registered. Can we sue the vendor?
AG, Dar

Yes. You can sue the vendor. Dealers of fertilizers are prohibited from selling or distributing adulterated or substandard fertilizer or fertilizer supplements. Section 30(2)(a) of the Fertilizers Act, 2009 (the Act) defines a fertilizer or fertilizer supplement which is adulterated to be one containing any deleterious or harmful substances in an amount that renders injurious to plant life, animals, humans, aquatic life, soil, air, water or environment in general when applied in accordance with directions for use. Section 30(2) (d) further defines a fertilizer or fertilizer supplement containing foreign materials other than the fertilizer or fertilizer supplement. Based on these provisions amongst others in the Act, you can proceed with a suit.

From what you have stated, it seems that your vendor is illegally trading. Section 28 of the Act prohibits a person to manufacture, import, export, sell, distribute any fertilizer or fertilizer supplements unless he is registered pursuant to the Act and conforms to the standards prescribed in the regulations. Your vendor is neither registered nor does he sell fertilizer of the required standard and, for that matter, you can report him to the Board of the Tanzania Fertilizer Regulatory Authority for appropriate sanctions.

MP claims back tractor

In 2018 our member of parliament (MP) bought a tractor for use by small scale farmers in our constituency. He told us that it was a grant from his personal savings but our Councilor is telling us that the tractor was bought from the constituency development catalyst fund (CDCF). In 2020 the MP was fortunately not re-elected, and in January 2021 he ordered the tractor to be parked at his residence claiming that it is his. Villagers ignored his orders as they knew that his intent was to sell it. Assuming the tractor was bought from CDCF, could the former MP take it or sell it? Who controls the property bought by CDCF? If it was a grant would your response be different?
KT, Dar

The Constituency Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF) was established in 2009 by the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund Act, 2009. CDCF was established for the purposes of development projects in every electoral constituency. Section 14(2) of the Act, clearly states that where a project in a constituency involves a purchase of equipment, such equipment shall remain for the exclusive use of that constituency and in the event of disposal of such equipment the amount realised shall be paid into the account of that constituency. Thus, if the tractor was bought by CDCF, the former MP is prohibited by law from either taking it back or selling it as this is not his personal property.

The CDCF and all assets and projects funded by it are managed by a committee chaired by the elected MP and other members namely District Planning Officer who is the Secretary to the Committee, two councillors at least one being a woman who are residents of the constituency, two Ward Executive Officers who are residents of constituency and one person nominated by the Committee from amongst the active NGOs in the area, if any.

For proper management of the CDCF bank account, section 14(1) of the Act makes it very clear that all payments from the CDCF should be made by way of cheque and the MP is not a signatory to the constituency bank account.

If the funds were not from CDCF, then it will depend on what the conditions of the grant were that will determine whether or not the former MP can take it back. Unfortunately, we don’t have the required details to fully answer this part of the question.