THE Attorney General (AG) has intervened in a dispute surrounding the sale of the Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) building by filing an application at the High Court's Commercial Division, seeking to be joined in the case to protect government's property.
Parties to the case appeared before presiding Judge Robert Makaramba when Principal State Attorney Gabriel Malata showed up, on behalf of the AG, to express the government's position on the matter. "The ATCL building is a government property.
Surprisingly, the AG was not involved in the case since the beginning, while the parties knew the litigation involved government property.
"We are now asking to be joined so that we defend government's interests," Mr Malata told the 'Daily News' later after the court session. The judge has set March 1, this year, as the date for hearing of the application.
The building, which is the subject matter in the case, is situated on Ohio Street in Dar es Salaam City centre. In the case, Leisure Tours and Holidays Limited is pushing for payments of over 1.2bn/- from ATCL being a debt that arose from the car rental services it had provided.
Through its advocate, Jerome Msemwa, the company had applied for attachment and sale of the building to recover the money, but Judge Makaramba directed that an evaluation should be carried out first to determine its value before issuing any other order.
The report on the evaluation exercise was to be filed in court on February 19, this year, but the tour operator company failed to do so, on claims that the ATCL management had refused to allow the appointed valuers to perform their duties effectively.
But the ATCL Acting Managing Director, Captain Milton Lazaro, described the claims as baseless. He said no one was denied access into the building to conduct the evaluation as ordered by the Court. "We cannot go against the court order.
I have not seen such people coming here for the inspection and denied them access. I even asked my colleagues whether there were such people who came and denied entrance. So it is not true," the acting MD was quoted as saying.
It was alleged that on January 16, 2008, the ATCL admitted an outstanding amount of 313,759 US dollars and made a commitment to settle the amount in three installments from February to April 2008. But later, through a letter, the tour operator company adjusted the amount unpaid to 321,016 US dollars.
On March 31, 2008, according to the plaint of the suit, the tour operator company demanded from the ATCL a sum of 367,097 US dollars due to further invoices rendered in the period between January 17 and March 31, 2008, plus interests of two per cent.
But ATCL responded through e-mail dated March 31, confirming inability to pay the amount. On May 30, 2008, the amount accrued and ATCL acknowledged the outstanding amount of 418,305 US dollars and offered to pay 30,000 US dollars on June 6, 2008 and 5,000 US dollars every week on Friday's thereafter.
The tour operator company agreed to the ATCL proposal and demanded an interest of 1.5 per cent per month on the outstanding amount. By e-mail, the tour operator company notified ATCL on June 20, 2008 of the irregularity of paying installments, which it had promised and by February 3, 2009, the amount accrued to 596,382 US dollars. Leisure Tours and Holidays Limited, thereafter, filed the suit demanding payments.