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Kwembe land dispute on course for amicable resolve

Residents of Kwembe ward on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam may soon have cause to smile as the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, promises amicable resolve of the protracted land compensation dispute.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda

The long stand-off was based on disputed land compensation of the area designated for construction of an ultramodern health facility under the auspices of the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, MUHAS, but matters related to compensation remained unresolved for long time.

According to the Secretary of the Residents’ Compensation Committee, Mr Danstan Mhando, the prime minister has pledged intervention for agreeable settlement of the matter soonest.

“In response to letters that we sent to him (Prime Minister) he promised to work on the matter,” he said, adding that the committee will seek out to learn about every new development effective next month (January 2014),” Mhando explained.

Earlier, the residents had vowed not to rest until assured of consequential compensation of their land. “We were just waiting for the government’s response over our demands… otherwise the matter will have to be taken to higher authorities for determination,” insisted Mhando. It was revealed that the committee had earlier sought assistance from the prime minister.

“We met him in August this year and he promised to work on the matter…but as time lapsed we decided to remind him through letters for which he has now responded,” he said. Commenting on the right to own the land (Kwembe area), one of the committee members Mr Cosmas Mbepela cited the Ujamaa Village Land Law of 1974 as the rightful document supporting their land ownership.

It means that they occupied the location ever since. According to the law, the government had undertaken to create Ujamaa Villages, a move in which led to relocation of villages from ancestral land into the newly established villages.

“We were relocated from Dar es Salaam in 1980 and taken to the newly established villages in this area (Kwembe),” he said. Meanwhile, the government is struggling to acquire some US Dollar 404.6 million to set up in the area (Kwembe) the ultra-Modern Medical Health and a campus for medical practitioners.

The Project to be constructed by Muhimbili Health and Allied Science (MUHAS) is an important project expected to create more than 4,000 jobs. The project is also expected to increase the number of medical students admission annually.

President Jakaya Kikwete has called for a helping hand from social security funds and foreign donors to help put up the project. Director of Planning and Development for the project Prof Appolinary Kamuhabwa said that the president has also tasked various ministers including Economic and Social Welfare, Works, Energy and Mineral Resources, Water among others to work closely to ensure the project becomes a success.

“We are holding discussion with Social Security Funds to see how we can partner for smooth implementation of the project. The government is also in talks with the government of China to acquire concession loans,” Kamuhabwa explained.

Prof Kamuhabwa told the ‘Sunday News’ that some impressive progress had been recorded that includes endorsement of the Project Master plan to cover 380 hectares. The project was scheduled to start on May 2011, first with construction of the Medical Health Centre funded by South Korean Government at an estimated cost of US dollar 76 million.

Funds are channeled through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. However, commencement of the construction work was stalled due to various challenges which includes refusal by some of the residents to vacate and continued pressing for compensation.

According to Prof Kamuhabwa, the government disbursed over 10.5b/- as compensation to some 2,624 residents for properties lost. Some of the claimants according to Prof Kamuhabwa went to court, blocking the implementation, claiming for a handsome land compensation.

He commended the government’s intervention over the dispute that led to the payments (properties’ compensation) of last bunch of the claimants, who had blocked the implementation plan. However, the intriguing aspect in relation to delayed implementation of the project was the ever soaring costs as time goes by.

For example, implementation of the immediate phase of the project (Medical Health Facility) is now pegged at US Dollar 61.95 million, instead of the USD 49.5 million initially planned for the project had it started in May 2011.

Some US Dollar 76 million from the South Korean Government was set for procurement of medical equipment while USD 49.5 million will be spent on actual construction of the hospital.

Prof Kamuhabwa appealed to the government to ensure timely availability of funds for smooth construction of the facility. He said constructions of side roads around the campus, installation of water facilities and installation of electricity was underway.

By ANNE ROBI, Tanzania Daily News

Source: 24 Tanzania