Concerns raised over red tape at the East African crude oil pipeline project

Tanga. Residents from the eight regions where the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project will pass, expressed concerns yesterday about the emerging bureaucracy that may see many missing out on opportunities rleated to the pipeline in their area.

The stage has already been set for the construction of a $3.5 billion 1,443km oil pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to the port city of Tanga to commence following the signing of all Host Government Agreements.

The project is reportedly set to create employment for more than 10,000 Tanzanians during construction, and 1,500 after oil transportation starts to flow along the facility.

Yesterday, the government instructed the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) and the private sector to create an environment that will enable the people of Tanzania to benefit from Sh8.4 trillion that will be spent on the crude oil pipeline project from Uganda to Chongoleani in Tanga region.

The directive was issued by the Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani and the Minister of Investment, Geoffrey Mwambe during the first Ugandan-Tanga oil pipeline implementation workshop for private sector stakeholders.

Dr Kalemani, who chaired the session said the government had fulfilled its responsibility after signing all agreements, so it was now the role of TPDC and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) to design an environment that will enable Tanzanians to benefit.

He said 80 percent of the project was on Tanzanian soil where 14 camps were built, 23 out of 29 lubricating stations and that 53 out of 76 shut-off valve stations were in Tanzania.

However, speaking at different occasions, the people who attended the meeting said that they were ready to seize the opportunities, but are skeptical of the already witnessed bureaucracy when appointing companies to provide services in the project.

Mr Masoud of the passenger transport sector in Tanga region, said signs of bureaucracy have begun that indicated that clearing and forwarding companies may be replaced by government agencies.

An entrepreneur, Richard Abel said the recruitment and registration process has not been clarified yet, leading to the emergence of fraudulent companies claiming to provide employment.

“Confidentiality in the employment process in this project is also a problem, it provides an opportunity for young people to be deceived,” said Mr Abel, who doubles as the opposition-NCCR Mageuzi’s chairperson in Tanga District.

For his part, Kipumbwi ward councilor in Pangani District, Akida Bahorera said despite the good plans for the project, a system should be put in place to supervise the implementation of the project at the grassroots level.

Further, Mami Mohamed from Anjari factory in Tanga said there was already a tendency of some investors wanting to use products from their countries, such as water, so he advised the government to prevent imports of products that are available in Tanzania and of good quality.

Responding to some of the concerns, Dr Kalemani instructed the manufacturers to prepare themselves so that they can repair the pipes that will be used in the project instead of importing them.

“I have heard that the pipes will be imported. I now ask our local manufacturers to manufacture quality pipes needed for the project,” said Dr Kalemani.

Among the product services earmarked for Tanzanians in accordance with the agreement signed according to a statement issued by the director general of TPDC, Dr James Mataragio, were building materials, transportation, food and beverages.

Others were hotels and catering, office equipment, fuel products, land surveying, freight installations, security services, construction contracts, communications services and sanitation services.

On the other hand, the Minister for Investment, Geoffrey Mwambe urged the people of the eight regions that host the pipeline to be fully prepared to protect the venture to, among other things, safeguard the good relations between Tanzania, Uganda and countries implementing the project.

In terms of insurance, Mr Mwambe urged insurance service providers to be fully organized to achieve efficiency.

Senior Officer of the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura), Kenneth Kaganga revealed that the database for registration of companies that will provide services for the project has already reached 737.

He mentioned the categories in the database that will require services from Tanzanian companies to include electricity, construction, industrial products, transportation, spare parts, telecommunications, insurance, technical advice, research and protection.

TPSF executive director, Francis Nanai said the industry was preparing a mechanism that will enable Tanzanian service providers to cooperate.

“If we really want Tanzanians to fully benefit, I suggest we ensure that cooperation between us is fortified,” said Nanai.