Zanzibar. Chinese company, MCC Overseas Limited, yesterday signed a contract worth $330 million (Sh717 billion) with a British firm, Pennyroyal, in a deal aimed at kick-starting the construction of a $1 billion tourist resort in Zanzibar.
The Zanzibar’s Ministry of Finance and Planning Permanent Secretary, Mr Hamis Mussa who graced the signing ceremony in Stone Town, said that the ambitious project would create more than 2,000 jobs for the locals and boost tourism in the Isles. He expressed the government’s commitment to supporting the project.
“As a government, we won’t simply be waiting for a 30 percent income tax from the project. We will provide the required support in its implementation,” said Mr Mussa in a speech he read on behalf Zanzibar’s Minister of Finance and Planning.
He added, “This partnership between these two investors in the project goes ahead to confirm the long and fruitful relationship that Tanzania has enjoyed with China over the years.’’
The Zanzibar Amber Resort, which is designed to occupy a 100,000 square metre-stretch of the Coastal site of North-East of Zanzibar, will take more than a decade to be completed, said Pennyroyal Director, Mr Brian Thomson.
Yesterday’s agreement, signed between Mr Thomson and his Chinese counterpart, the MCC Overseas Chairman, Mr Leo Zou, involves the construction of luxury villas, apartments, residential complexes, five 5-star hotels, a marina and luxury Islands as part of the project’s phase-1.
However, the investors in the huge construction project have had to surmount a number of barriers in terms of documentation and compensation for the locals, prompting Zanzibar’s President; Dr Mohammed Shein to set a special Presidential Committee about four months ago, with the aim of looking into ways of speeding up the process and help investors deal with some compensation disputes.
The Citizen has learnt that some of the residents in the villages of Matemwe Mbuyu Tende and Kijini; surrounding the construction site, have raised claims of missing out in compensation plan.
Responding to the claims, Pennyroyal Director, Mr Thomson, told The Citizen that the land, which the government has leased to the investors for 99-years, was initially not occupied by any of the local residents, making compensation a complex issue.
He said, “Claims have been arising every now and then. We are open to any legitimate claims that come up. But, [as Pennyroyal] we have notified the government on this. We don’t own the land, so, we expect the government to come up with a legitimate list of the aggrieved.’’
He added, “We have already made over 1,500 compensations but this was only for locals who said they owned coconut trees, and claimed certain pieces of the land where we are doing the construction.”
The envisaged Zanzibar Amber Resort, whose design began about five years ago, will be of mixed use—for hospitality and residential development occupying a pristine area.
When completed, the resort is expected to turn around business in the area that will now be home to five luxury five-star hotels, a fully equipped equestrian centre, and a private jet airport of 3000metre runway, state-of-the-art medical facilities and an international school.