Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday ordered the release of 56 containers stuck at Dar es Salaam Port with equipment meant for government projects.
Included in the consignment is equipment for the construction of a new ship, and rehabilitation of two others that ply Lake Victoria.
The President gave state agencies one week to resolve an apparent stalemate over tax exemptions and release the containers without fail.
Dr Magufuli issued the directive during an impromptu tour of Mwanza South Port yesterday, where he inspected the implementation of the Sh151.4 billion projects being undertaken by South Korean firms. Officials on the ground were at pains to explain to the Head of State why the projects had stalled.
But visibly not satisfied with the reasons offered, the President took a mobile phone and personally called the Finance permanent secretary Dotto James for an explanation.
In a dramatic scene broadcast live by the state-run TBC, Dr Magufuli publicly directed the Permanent Secretary to meet his counterpart at the Works ministry and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner General Edwin Mhende to resolve the matter immediately.
“I want the 56 containers at the project site not later than the coming week,” he said.
Earlier, he was told that the containers were not released on time because the contractor had failed to submit documentation.
There was also lack of communication between the responsible government executives. President Magufuli warned that “this kind of bureaucratic bungling shouldn’t be repeated”.
“This must be solved immediately, and the contractor’s documents should be worked on quickly because these projects are being implemented using taxpayers’ money,” he said.
The Head of State also directed the contractors, engineers, and officials at the Works, Transport and Communication ministry to ensure that renovation of the MV Victoria and MV Butiama was also speeded up.
Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) signed the contract for the projects with three South Korean firms last year
One of the projects is the construction of the slipway, while the others are the renovation of the MV Victoria and MV Butiama, as well as the building of a new ship.
South Korean firm STX Engineering Co Ltd is undertaking the Sh34.5 billion slipway project in collaboration with Saekyung Construction Co Ltd.
KTMI Co Ltd, also South Korean, is renovating the MV Victoria and MV Butiama at a cost of Sh27.9 billion. Another South Korean Company, Gasentec Co. Ltd, was contracted to design and build the new ship at a cost of Sh89 billion.
Already, there has been an outcry among traders in the region over the high costs of road transport following the grounding of ships plying Lake Victoria.
The acting chief engineer for ship renovation, Mr Abel Gwanafyo, assured the President that the job would be completed in March, next year.
“We are now painting the ships before engines and generators are installed. They are expected to be delivered this September from South Korea,” he said.
Mr Vitus Mapunda, who is overseeing the construction of the new ship, said 35 per cent of the project has been implemented.
“Over 330 containers of steel are expected to arrive this September from South Korea,” he said.