Land disputes hinder industrial drive

Saturday October 13 2018

Former Tanzania Petroleum Development

Former Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) director general, Dr James Mataragio, shows journalists a plan for the pipeline that will transport crude oil from Uganda to Tanga Port during a press conference in Dar es Salaam in the past. The corporation is mentioned in land compensation claims. PHOTO|FILE 

By John Namkwahe @johnteck3

Dar es Salaam. The country’s industrialisation drive to achieve a middle income economy by 2025 may face a fresh setback, following revelations that the government is yet to compensate residents in some areas where it acquired land for implementation of mega projects.

The warning was issued by Kilwa District commissioner Christopher Ngubiagai when he addressed participants during a stakeholders meeting on extractive contracts transparency organised by Oxfam Tanzania in Dar es Salaam recently.

Mr Ngubiagai warned that if the state and other potential investors failed to compensate communities in areas where the projects are being implemented, the residents may revolt and in the future may be reluctant to release their land to the government.

According to him, Kilwa District in Lindi Region was among the country’s potential investment areas where the majority of the State-run-institutions had acquired some sufficient land for implementation of development projects.

However, according to him, some villagers in the district whose plots were acquired to pave the way for implementation of the projects did not receive their compensation up to date.

“For instance, the Kilwa District Council owes some villagers a total of Sh5 billion in land compensations.

“It has been between 5 to 7 years since the council acquired the plots from residents for development projects,” he said.

The DC further revealed that the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) was also yet to compensate some villagers after it acquired a 420-acre land for construction of a fertilizer factory at Kilwa Masoko, Ngome in Lindi Region.

Commenting further on the matter, the DC asserted that the last time TPDC issued compensation for land was in 2016, explaining that other compensations were issued in 1991 and 2000 respectively.

“There are some people who have not been compensated. However, TPDC has issued compensation in three different periods in its history,” he said.

A letter to TPDC over complaints

According to him, he had already written a letter to TPDC acting director general Kapuulya Musomba informing him about the villagers’ complaints.

The TPDC boss responded, saying his office had already issued the payments to the relevant villagers, said the DC.

The TPDC boss  further mentioned that he was not aware of the other villagers’ complaints, pledging to consult the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) office to investigate the said complaints.

“I wrote a letter to Mr Musomba in May and he replied in June, this year, saying his office would resolve the complaints. However, since then there has been no progress made to resolve the problem,” he said.

TPDC dismisses allegations

When reached for comment over the allegations, the TPDC boss told The Citizen stated that: “All the compensations are paid to people whose documents are verified and deserve to receive the money.

“We can’t just pay everyone who is complaining. Other people will come forward to claim that we have committed economic sabotage by paying ghost people,” he said.

He added: “We always consider justice when issuing compensation. No one is being left behind. All the affected communities are being compensated as per the agreement.”

Commenting further, the TPDC boss admitted to have submitted reports to the anti-corruption agency amidst investigation on land compensations claims that were made by villagers in Lindi Region. However, he declined to give more details on the matter’s progress.

“There is a fixed budget for land compensation. Therefore, once the investigation is complete, we will issue the payments to the relevant villagers as per standards availed in the agreement,” he said.

Mr Ngubiagai further revealed that, villagers in Kisangi, Lindi Region, were also land victims who were yet to be compensated by the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) after the army acquired about 2400 acres of land worth Sh3 billion for construction of a navy base.

“The good news is that the army has already set aside the funds for compensation to villagers. I hope that the process will be accomplished soon,” he said.

Not only that, the DC disclosed that the Muslim University of Morogoro was also among institutions that had acquired sufficient land from Lindi villagers for various development projects.

However, according to him, the university was yet to compensate some villagers, prompting complaints among them over delays.

Local case study report

The report dubbed “Balancing Infrastructure Development and Community Livelihoods-2016” is an outcome of research that was conducted in Southern Tanzania in February 2016 by Oxfam Tanzania in partnership with other CSOs.

It analyses the construction of the gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam and its impacts on land rights of those who live alongside it.

The study is motivated by stakeholders’ desire and commitment to have a better understanding of such impacts so as to figure out better ways for redress, prevention in future projects and mitigation.

Among others, the findings indicate that there is a delay in availing compensation.

In the project under consideration, TPDC compensated those affected by the project before relocation as it is required by the law. However, the affected individuals were dissatisfied by the delay in the payments.

The delay, insufficient communication and uncertainties arising from it led to a missed farming season yet no compensation was paid for the additional loss.