Protests in Tanzania's Mtwara region at the weekend caused about 1.5 billion shillings ($929,000) in damages, Home Affairs Minister Emmanuel Nchimbi said Wednesday (January 30th).
Government structures damaged in the riots will cost an estimated 750 million shillings ($464,000) to repair, he said according to Tanzania's Daily News. On Sunday, protestors destroyed 11 vehicles belonging to the Masasi District Council and set fire to a court building, the district education office and several local officials' homes.
Nchimbi said initial findings suggest that people who caused the damages in Masasi were outsiders paid to carry out the vandalism and destruction, and not local residents.
"We will not go easy on people bent on disrupting the peace," he said. "It would be foolhardy to continue with violent acts that will only scare away investors."
The protests were prompted by residents' concerns that they would not benefit from gas produced in their region. Four people were killed and 12 injured in the demonstrations.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda acknowledged on Tuesday that the government had failed to educate Mtwara residents about how the government will manage the gas pipeline project, promising that the main plant for transporting the gas would be constructed in Madimba village.