22 January 2013

Tanzania: Mkapa Wants Gas 'Row' Solved Amicably

Photo: Capital FM
A natural gas plant: Mtwara residents in Tanzania are protesting the governments plans to pump natural gas to Dar es Salaam through their town.

FORMER President Benjamin Mkapa has come out in the open and advised concerned parties to deliberate and amicably resolve the move to construct a natural gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam.

The former head of state warned that demonstrations and civil disorder would not help solve problems but would rather scare investments.

In a statement issued in Dar es Salaam, Mr Mkapa warned against use of demonstrations and chaos, saying it would not help to solve problems. "Having hailed from Mtwara and as a good citizen of this country, I have been saddened by happenings over the past few weeks," the former head of state said, adding that the country's peace and security would be at stake if the situation will be allowed to deteriorate.

Mtwara and Lindi have over the past few weeks attracted attention from all over the country following demonstrations there opposing construction of the pipeline to transport the gas to the country's economic and industrial hub. At the heart of controversy is a plan by the government to construct a natural gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam for power generation, industrial and domestic use.

Reasonable quantity of gas has been discovered in Mtwara, Lindi and Coast regions and residents in the former two regions want the resource be used to generate power there rather than being transported Mr Mkapa expressed concern that arguments on the matter seem to have divided the government and leaders of political parties on one hand and members of political parties and their leaders and the government as well.

While noting that implementation of such projects requires several conditions such as capital and technology, he pointed out that any investor, be it government or private sector, would implement them in an environment where there is peace and security of people and property.

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