Dar es Salaam. Singida East MP on Chadema ticket Tundu Lissu has said the government’s commercial aircraft Bombardier Q400 which was scheduled to land into the country in July this year has been seized in Canada.
Mr Lissu made the statement yesterday at a press conference, saying the decision came after government’s failure to pay $38 million to the Canadian Stirling Civil Engineering.
The firm won the tender to construct the Wazo Hill-Bagamoyo Road but the government terminated the deal without paying compensation. The firm filed the case at the International Court of Arbitration in Montreal Canada. “The government lost the case and in 2010 it was ordered to pay the compensation of $25 million with an interest of eight per cent,” said Mr Lissu who was with party senior leaders including national chairman Freeman Mbowe and former Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye.
He said, the debt wasn’t paid on time, hence it increased up to $38 million by end of June this year that is when the order to attached government properties that would be found in Canada, France, Netherlands, Belgium, England and Uganda was issued. “To start with, they took the Bombardier Q400 which was expected in the country last month, and the same would be done to our much awaited plane, Boeng 787 Dreamliner, if the debt won’t be paid,” added.
Explaining further, the outspoken lawmaker said as part of efforts to sort out the matter, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga, travelled to Canada in the past two weeks to negotiate with the construction firm over the plane.
According to him, the meeting was also attended by Tanzanian High Commissioner to Canada, Mr Jack Zoka, whereas the resolution reached was the government to pay a down payment of $12.5 million out of $38.7 million and that arrangements will be made to clear the remaining amount.
With confidence, he said that all the information was obtained from their insiders in the government, however, he refrained from mentioning his whistle blowers.
Reached for comments, Dr Mahiga admitted to have visited Canada two weeks ago as it was claimed by Lissu, but denied that he went to negotiate on how the plane could be recovered.
He was speaking in a telephone interview straight from Pretoria, South Africa where he is attending the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Double Troika Summit. “Of course, I was in Canada in the past two weeks but not for the that purpose. My trip was for other duties,” he said and also admitted being aware on the money that government owes the Canadian construction company which has persisted since 2009 & 10.
“As I’m not in the country, it would be better if you will contact lawyers as they might have all the details about the case,” he said.
He also passed the ball to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, saying it was in the position to speak more about the arrival of the remaining planes.
Prof Makame Mbarawa, who is the minister for Works, Transport and Communications, could not be reached has his phone went unanswered. His deputy, Mr Edwin Ngonyani, howeer, said he was not aware of the new development.
He assured that the planes would arrive in the country as per the arrangements, insisting that the delay was due to traffic at the manufacturer. “What I know is that the manufacturer has many orders which are to be cleared. Apparently, Bombardiers are the talk of the day. They have attracted many clients worldwide. We should remain optimistic that the this particular plane will be delivered,” he said.
About the debt, he said, it was a normal practice for the government to owe various institutions within and outside the country.
“When we assumed office in 2015, the ministry owed Sh1.12 trillion. We have paid some and right now, the debt has been reduced to Sh900 million. So, it’s normal for us to owe various institutions,” he said.
Mr Lissu, who is the chief lawyer of Chadema, further warned that if things won’t be sorted immediately then there is the danger that the government would go bankrupt.
The Canadians and court judgement, according to Lissu, resulted from the improper decision by government officials on matters of national interest.
He said government officials must be thinking twice on the outcomes of whatever decision they were taking especially on the termination of the contracts signed with foreign firms.
For him, the presidential assistants on legal matters have failed to advice the Head of State as they were supposed to for fear of being fired.
Most of assistants to the president are worried of their fate in public service that is why they have decided either to mute or ive shallow legal advice, he claimed. He related the decision with the ongoing negotiations that the government is having with Barrick Gold Company, cautioning that chances were narrow for the government win.
He said Acacia has filed a notice of arbitrating seeking for a compensation of $2 billion from the government as a result of the loss they incurred after the mineral ores which were set for export, were seized at the Dar es Salaam port.
Moreover, the AngloGold Ashanti Mining Company which owns Geita Gold Mine also intends to do the same after having some of their signed contracts breached by the government.