Tanzanian military cordoned off forex bureaus in Arusha in an unprecedented move that rattled clients and the business community.
The blockade began between 11am and 12 noon on Monday when soldiers moved in and kept guard outside the currency exchange shops in the city with no one allowed access.
According to The Citizen, some officers appeared to be working from within in what many speculated could be an audit ordered by the regulator, the Bank of Tanzania.
The newspaper said when it reached a senior BoT official in Arusha for comment, she initially expressed surprise. She later told the reporter that the central bank would issue a statement on the closure of the bureaux de changes.
Owners of the dozens of the outlets across the central business district could not be reached for comment by press time.
The Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) spokesperson Mr Ramadhani Dogoli declined to speak about the development referring The Citizen reporter to the Arusha Regional Police Commander Mr Ramadhani Ng’anzi.
But, Mr Ng'anzi said he had no authority to comment on military operations.
“The army operates independently, so I can’t interfere,” he responded in a telephone interview.
Arusha city is popular with tourists and is the centre of the northern Tanzania safari circuit.
It is also a gateway to Seregenti national park famed for the wildebeest migration and Africa's highest peak Mt Kilimanjaro.
The northern city is also a hub for conferences and headquarters of the East African Community Secretariat.
-Reporting by The Citizen