PRESIDENT John Magufuli has directed regional authorities in Dar es Salaam to halt planned demolitions of over 17,300 houses along Msimbazi valley and Masaki Tuangoma which were recently announced by the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development.
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Paul Makonda, yesterday told residents there that he had been instructed by the Head of State to stop the planned demolitions, noting that proper procedures were not followed and authorities in the region were unaware of the exercises.
"After news of the demolitions appeared in the media, the President phoned me to enquire whether authorities in the region were aware; I informed him that neither my office nor district directors were notified," he explained, adding: He (President Magufuli) told me he was not elected to raze down people's houses but rather, bring about development.
The President was categorical that the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) manifesto stresses on improving housing for the people and not otherwise," the RC stated.
Mr Makonda was nevertheless categorical that people who had encroached on land reserved for public use such as markets, playgrounds, schools and open places, even if they had title deeds for them should surrender to authorities for possible solutions.
According to the RC, the President was only aware of demolitions announced by the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) along Kimara-Kiluvya Road and another by the Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) along the railway line to pave the way for construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.
"The President was saddened that the planned demolitions were announced without informing responsible authorities, not even the regional authorities. Demol ishing those houses will leave over 100,000 people homeless," the RC told the cheering residents at Kigogo and Masaki Tuangoma.
A few days ago, NEMC announced plans to demolish 17,000 structures along the Msimbazi valley from Pugu to Selander Bridge in Dar es Salaam. The same announcement was made by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development for 300 housing structures in Masaki Tuangoma in Temeke Municipality.
But, the RC made it clear that the President, as the custodian of all the land in the country, was against the demolition exercises. "It is apparent that some individuals had planned demolitions in areas which are not even in flood prone areas just to create hatred between the people and the government," Mr Makonda charged.
He called for stringent actions against local authorities who were responsible for fueling land conflicts in their respective areas. The Dar es Salaam regional boss stated further that he had made a follow up and realised that the houses in Masaki Tuangoma which had been marked for demolition were in fact sold by leaders in the areas, while they were fully aware that they were either open spaces or in flood prone areas.
Mr Makonda said he was planning to request the minister responsible for lands to deploy land officers to conflict-prone areas, in a bid to resolve them.