22 January 2013

Tanzania: Gas Pipeline Issue Must Be Handled With Sobriety


THE controversy surrounding the proposed construction of a natural gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam has now taken a new, and a very saddening twist, following allegations that some foreign firms have their hands in the saga.

Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, George Simbachawene, was on Sunday quoted by this newspaper as saying that the firms have plans to grab the natural gas recently discovered in some parts of the country and take it to various overseas destinations. This allegation is indeed very saddening.

It is unfortunate that the issue involving trillions of dollars and expected to bring economic revolution in the country is turning into a political theatre. The matter needs to be addressed with utmost sobriety by all stakeholders including government authorities, politicians, residents of Mtwara and Lindi as well as investors.

Fear and curiosity by residents of Lindi and Mtwara on their stake in the natural resources to be drilled in their backyard can clearly be understood. But the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, had earlier this month rightly told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that the government has constructive plans that will enable all Tanzanians to benefit from the natural gas drilled in the country including residents of Lindi and Mtwara.

The minister, however, clarified that gas fields so far discovered in the country were not confined to Mtwara and Lindi regions but in some places several kilometres off shore. He pointed out that out of almost 40 million cubic feet (mcf) in recoverable natural gas field so far discovered in the country, 78 per cent are found in the Indian Ocean deep sea.

It is unfortunate that some politicians in search for cheap popularity are sowing the seeds of discord in the country by making some people hate the government over its natural gas policies and strategy for the benefit of the entire nation. The government and other relevant authorities should be left to continue with talks with the current and future investors to strike the win-win situation in the interest of this and future generations.

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