Sumbawanga — SOME villagers in Rukwa Region are gripped with fear, believing the government is broke and therefore will be unable to compensate them, when they are relocated to pave the way for constuction of a road.
Residents of Santa Maria area in the newly created Kalambo District have subsequently said they won't allow Sumbawanga - Matai - Kasanga Port (112km) road to be constructed until the government compensates them in advance. The construction of the road which will cost 133bn/, is being undertaken by China Railway 15 Bureau Group Corporation (CR15G) and funded by the Tanzanian government.
Rukwa Regional Commissioner Stella Manyanya was forced to intervene, telling the villagers that the government was not broke. Ms Manyanya said the reports that the government was bankrupt were unfounded, unjustifiable, unsubstantiated and bent on creating a confusion.
The RC assured them that they had no reason to worry and that they would be compensated when all arrangements were in place. The villagers' fears stem from information that has been propagated by some politicians and the media, making them believe that the state coffers were empty thanks to massive theft and corruption.
The RC was compelled to comfront the villagers, asking them whether they were paying taxes before complaining that the state money was being stolen. She accused the villagers of being irresponsible, saying before they could demand any right they had to fullfill their obligation of paying taxes.
" To allay your fear, I must truly tell you here in my capacity as the Rukwa Regional Commissioner that your government has not gone bankrupt at all," she said. "I promise you that your compensations would be paid at the end of July...," she further said, adding that the government had other priorities such as education, heathcare and infrastructure.
The villagers are demanding a total of 23m/- in compensation and after meeting the the RC they agreed to vacate the land, waiting for their compensation. The road is being constructed after several months of waiting as the government delayed to pay the conntractors.
However, the Rukwa Tanroads Manager, Engineer Florian Kabaka, said the contractor was not supposed to stop the project since the contract stipulated that they would be paid some interest following the delays. Commenting on the Santa Maria residents's fears, Engineer Kabaka said that the evaluation had already been carried out in which over 23m/- would be paid to 34 people.
Six international contractors have been rehabilitating roads to tarmac level in the region including Tunduma - Laela - Sumbawanga (223.12km), Sumbawanga -Namanyere - Mpanda /Kizi - Kibaoni (274 km) and Sumbawanga - Matai -Kasanga (122km).