Posted Date:: 24.12.2007 @03:13 EAT Govt website fails to attain desired goal By Mkinga Mkinga THE CITIZEN The multi-million website established by the government to articulate communication with wananchi is proving futile, The Citizen has learnt. The website www.wananchi.go.tz, cost a total of Sh342,508,000, according to documents seen by this paper. Despite the high enthusiasm shown by ordinary people by sending many questions in order to get answers from the government, the bureaucracy within it has been delaying feedbacks. The idea of having a government website to respond to various issues or questions posed by wananchi was mooted by President Jakaya Kikwete in March, 2006, during the seminars for top government officials held at a posh hotel in Arusha. The main purpose of establishing the government website was to ensure that wananchi are kept abreast with what is happening in the country by accessing and receiving information from their leaders online. Among other things the website would have enabled wananchi to communicate directly with their government via internet hence avoiding the old government bureaucracy. Speaking to this paper in Dar es Salaam last week, the director of Information Services, Mr Kassim Mpenda, admitted that the website was facing problems since it was established last July, especially in giving feedback to wananchi. He said when they were establishing it they set a deadline of five days to respond to questions from wananchi. But details from the website show that there are queries which have taken up to two weeks, and more, without getting a responce. The aim to set this deadline was to make sure that this official website becomes very effective, and wananchi are answered within a specific time. But, very unfortunately, you find that some questions are not answered, he lamented. Mr Mpenda said they had agreed with Information and Communication Officers (ICOs) to respond immediately to queries raised by wananchi. And if an answer needs more details they were supposed to tell their customers so, he said. He explained another difficulty which caused delays as the government's top down system, in which some questions have to be answered by only top officials. Sometimes these might be very busy and forget to respond to their clients, he said. The whole process is hindered by unfair bureaucracy from the government. But sometimes such kind of bureaucracy helps to have concrete answers from the government and, mind you, what is replied by the government officials is their position, he noted. However, Mr Mpenda said some delays happen because of the nature of the questions themselves. He said some of those delaying them may be complaining about services offered by the Government in peripheral areas where confirmation is needed from their authorities before a government stand on an issue is given.