21 January 2013

Tanzania: TBA Should Expedite Probe On Sold Houses

THE move by the Tanzania Building Agency (TBA) to work on reports that some buyers of government houses have violated the contract which requires them not to resell the units until after 25 years is laudable though long overdue.

It is laudable too that the agency's Chief Executive Officer, Mr Elius Mwakalinga, acting on the revelation in Sunday's edition of our sister paper, the 'Sunday News,' has come up with such a fast and appropriate response.

The 'Sunday News' reported that several buyers of the houses have either developed them through joint ventures or sold the buildings all together against a government directive.

According to a survey by the newspaper, a good number of the houses have already been pulled down and replaced by multi-storey commercial structures. Although the contract does not prohibit new owners from demolishing the houses and erecting better structures, it is strictly against reselling the houses.

Some of the houses at Upanga, Msasani, Masaki and Oysterbay, according to the survey, have either been demolished, completely refurbished and are used for commercial purposes.

Development of these houses did not begin yesterday; it started a couple of years ago.

The houses, all of them located on prime areas were sold under a programme of minimising the cost of running the government. The government thus decided to sell the houses to curtail the heavy burden of maintaining them. Statistics show that the exercise involved the sale of about 7,500 houses.

It should be recalled that selling of the houses to senior government officials including ministers, permanent secretaries, directors and heads of public institutions, was highly disputed by sections of the public and politicians including legislators.

That explains why the latest development raises eyebrows among not only critics who all along have been against the exercise of selling the state-owned housed but also to normal citizens.

If TBA finds out that some of the buyers violated the relevant contract, then the public would wish to see action taken sooner than later.

Action on this matter is very important because the buyers of the houses are senior officials who are supposed to lead by example and who are the same people who have always stressed the importance of respecting directives by authorities.

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