The truth about missiles
By Mbena Mwanatongoni
The lives of missiles differ from their types, but under normal circumstances at their expiry there are special guidelines to service them after a given period of time, according to military experts who want their identities protected.
``When a bomb reaches its lifespan an arrangement is made to service it after intervals of a specific period, depending on the type, a senior officer said, following powerful explosions that literally paralysed Dar es Salaam, whose panicky 3million plus residents went weird on Wednesday.
The sporadic but unpunctuated explosions from a military armoury situated at Mbagala, about 15 kilometres away in the southern outskirts of the central business, have caused a few deaths that are confirmed by the authorities, which include the police and hospitals, as hundreds of people sustained injuries, and some maimed.
All the officers reached a consensus, that failure to service the bombs in time could have a devastating effect to the storage facility itself, staff around it and neighbours, although they were far from compromising it was such an absence of servicing that was behind the deadly blasts, whose effects are still numerous.
According to the experts, countries are not allowed to destroy any missiles, including ammunitions, even if they have outlived their usefulness, without the consent and presence of the United Nations Security Council.
An arrangement is normally made by the military, to seek permission to destroy arms and ammunitions that are no longer needed in any more use from the UN, which will subsequently send its inspectors to verify uselessness of the said weapons and to witness such destruction physically taking place.
A report is thereafter prepared.
Last time Tanzania defence forces destroyed arms through such an arrangement was in 2004 at Arusha northern brigade, Msata for Dar es Salaam brigade and Songea southern brigade.
They say that any facility charged with storing these sensitive military explosive materials has to be looked upon with the most serious attention, as the case always is with Tanzania Peoples` Defence Forces, to fence out any possibility of accident or self detonation.
During regular servicing and inspection of the facility by responsible officers, anomalies such as termites or ants encroaching and feeding on layers separating the missiles, consequently placing them at the risk of partnering, are quickly detected and arrested.
It also allows the inspectors to detect any decaying bombs or ammunitions, as well as those whose fuses are dead.
Established in 1988 as Rear Logistics Centre (RLC) to support Tanzanian troops in Mozambique in operation Safisha (cleansing) to wipe out Renamo forces which were fighting against the Frelimo government, Mbagala detachment was and still remains a detachment under the command of the mother unit 511 of the TPDF based at Gongolamboto.
Technicians and officers from Maval forces and land forces conduct inspection of the unit at intervals so as to establish its security, or to take immediate preventive measures to avert any danger.
When the Mbagala military outfit was built the place was secluded, according to sources, and the military personnel who kept sentry at the detachment, could not be alarmed by the slow but certain human settlement developing nearby.