21 September 2017

Tanzania: JPM Gets Tough On Tanzanite

Photo: State House
President John Magufuli joins officials to cut a ribbon to officially launch a 26km tarmac road linking Kilimanjaro International Airport and Mererani in Manyara Region.

President John Magufuli has directed the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) through National Service, to build a wall fence around Tanzanite blocks A to D at Mirerani tanzanite mines and instal high-tech equipment to monitor mining activities, so the government can earn proper revenue.

Dr Magufuli has also directed that trading in tanzanite gemstone should now be conducted in Simanjiro only in order to promote trade and development in the area. President Magufuli said JKT - through its economic wing (Suma JKT) - and others should construct the wall around the tanzanite blocks including installing electric wire on the wall, CCTV cameras and other surveillance equipment to curb theft and smuggling.

The President made the remarks yesterday when opening a 26km tarmac road from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) to Mererani built at a cost of 32.5bn/- and funded solely by government, at Naisinyai village in Manyara Region.

The contractor received 30.9bn/- and the consultant 1.6bn/-, according to President Magufuli (pictured). Dr Magufuli said the wall fence would ensure the gemstones pass through official channels of trade so that the government can get proper royalties and put a stop to smuggling and illegal trade of Tanzanite.

"Surveys have already been done ... Suma-JKT and others must build a wall around block A to D which has a lot of the gemstones ... and this work should begin immediately," President Magufuli stressed.

The 13km square tanzanite blocks to be fenced will have only one main entry and exit gate area, which would be installed with high-tech facilities to detect hidden gemstones. He said that tanzanite gemstone which is only found at Mererani in Simanjiro District had been smuggled by foreigners, leaving locals in Simanjiro District and Tanzanians in general, without development.

The President assured Tanzanians in Simanjiro that contracts would be reviewed and signed afresh to ensure the government benefits more - so it can bring water and other essential services to people in Simanjiro and Tanzania in general.

He expressed sadness that the gemstone which is not found anywhere else except Tanzania, has benefitted foreign individuals and foreign countries more, while people in Simanjiro do not have basic needs such as clean water and health services.

"I believe Tanzanite One and the others will sit down with the government and agree on contract review so that the new contracts are more beneficial to the general public and especially Simanjiro people," he explained.

Dr Magufuli said it was high time Tanzania benefits from its natural resources which have been plundered for a long time by foreigners while leaving citizens in abject poverty.

"Small miners should mine and sell their gemstones at a shop that will also be built within the enclosure so that the government can earn revenue," he noted, directing Bank of Tanzania (BoT) to get involved in purchasing the Tanzanite.

He said foreigners have been plundering the nation's natural resources without remorse, while Tanzanians continue to wallow in poverty.

"We want investors but not those who will steal from us, not during my time because they will shed tears. They made us believe they are the ones who have it and we don't while actually the other way round," he noted.

Addressing the public who turned up to witness the opening of the 26km tarmac road, President Magufuli stressed on unity, cooperation and patriotism in protecting interests of the public, insisting the enemy in the country is not political parties but the fact that natural resources have been stolen for a long time.

"This place would have been like Europe ... if God did not make a mistake of giving us Tanzanite, then we need change starting today ... reports show that tanzanite does not benefit locals here or the nation. We only get five per cent while the remaining 95 per cent goes to benefit other countries," he noted.

Dr Magufuli said unlike gold, one cannot cheat with tanzanite, stressing that proper management of the gemstone would have ensured availability of clean water in the area and other developments.

He explained that some of these challenges are of the doing of government officials who have failed to properly manage the country's natural resources. The president urged political parties to set aside their differences and work together to protect the nation's natural resources, so Tanzanians can benefit more.

"God blessed us with natural resources but we are still poor. There is no clean water in Simanjiro, roads and health services are poor," he explained promising that he would provide an ambulance for people in Simanjiro.

Recent reports indicate that Tanzanite Gemstones worth nearly 700 billion/are smuggled out of the country annually through illegal means with the lot ending up in the neighbouring country of Kenya, South-Africa and India.

While Kenya handles tanzanite valued at $100m every year - and India documents blue gemstones worth $300 million - it's surprising that Tanzania, the source of the blue gemstones, records a paltry $38 million worth of Tanzanite business per annum.

Earlier, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Makame Mbarawa, said the tarmac road would link Simanjiro with Arusha and other parts of the country, opening up trade in the area.

The minister commended all stakeholders involved in the project including China Henan International Corporation Group Limited (CHICO) for a good job and complimenting the project on time.

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