Arusha — JUST as the Arusha-Namanga section of the Athi-River to Arusha highway built under the East African Community is reported to have not been well constructed, another hitch seems to sting a regional road project.
The planned construction of the Arusha-Holili-Taveta highway, via Moshi has hit a snag over delays in payment of compensation to residents whose houses stand to be demolished to pave the way to the dual carriageway. As the result, the multi-billion modern track-way part of which is set to be a four-lane carriageway is currently stuck in limbo. Apparently the works were scheduled to start next April.
Tanzania has just slotted into the bucket a sum of only 1 billion (about US $649350.65) out of the 28 billion/- (or US $18.19 million) required to compensate the nearly 1,000 families whose houses, are to be demolished.
Official information shows that nearly 160 houses will be affected along the 40 kilometres road stretch linking Arusha City and Usa-River satellite town through a new by-pass supposed to start from Ngaramtoni to Kisongo onto the Arusha airport onwards to Njiro and Moshono suburbs on the southeast and later connect with the main Arusha-Moshi road at Usa River.
The residents in the area say they won't move until the last cent in their compensation is paid, "We are not going to settle for promises. People around here will fight for their land," a leader of the affected residents , Mr Arthur Sixtus said.
According to Mr Sixtus the long overdue compensation has disrupted their plans as they were ordered to stop any developments in the area, including modifying or using their properties as collateral in acquiring loans since 2012. In a response, the Arusha Regional Manager for Tanzania Roads Network Agency (TANROADS), Engineer Deusdedit Kakoko said the government was looking for additional funds.
He was of the view that while the process to pay them off was being worked out, the residents should have started to vacate to avoid delaying the ambitious project which is set to begin in four weeks time. He put it clear that with or without immediate compensation, the government will take over the area for the road construction because as far as he is concerned, the hillbillies should understand that the areas they currently occupying is no longer theirs.
The best that the residents can do, according to Eng. Kakoko is appeal for the re-evaluation of their properties, but right now they must vacate to pave the way for the April works. Human rights lawyer, Ms Miriam Matinda says that section 49 (3) of the land Act of 1999, cap. 113 provides for the right to compensation over the revoked rights of occupancy. "All land occupiers are entitled to prompt and adequate compensation.
As a government which upholds the rule of law and good governance it should compensate the affected people timely and promptly," says Ms Matinda, who is also an advocate of the High Court of Tanzania. The Arusha-Moshi road project is part of the 240km long regional project linking Arusha, the Community headquarters and Voi town in Kenya. Upgrading of the 85km long Voi- Holili section in Kenya is already underway, the official explained.
The entire project, whose preinvestment studies are complete, will cost an estimated US $560 million. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has granted nearly US $300 million towards the highway. Reports from the EAC Secretariat indicate that the available funds can only finance the 42 kilometre by-pass within Arusha and the rehabilitation of a 35km Arusha-Usa River section of the 110km highway.
"We expect the civil works for the by-pass to start in the coming months", EAC Principal Eng. Hoseah Nyangweso explained, adding that rehabilitation of the Arusha- Usa River road will start at Sakina area and would be expanded to a four-lane up to Tengeru, some 20km away from the city. Eng. Nyangweso could not explain when funds will be available to cover the entire Tanzanian side of the regional road. However, sources said there was a possibility to come from AfDB, the seeming traditional financier of road projects in East Africa.
The road is being massively rehabilitated in order to create another major transport corridor in the region, linking the Mombasa port with northern Tanzania and land-locked countries. Official launching of the roadupgrading project was to take place in April this year, according to the EAC director of Infrastructure Mr Phillip Wambugu who added that once the civil works commence, the section would be completed within three years.