Zanzibar — Bad debts have subjected Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (ZECO) to serious financial difficulties, the House of Representatives heard here yesterday.
The House's Land and Communication Committee Chairman Hamza Hassan Juma said individuals as well as private and public institutions owed the public power utility firm about 40bn/- as of September, 2019.
Presenting the committee's report summary in the House, the chairman challenged all debtors- individuals, private and public institutions-to clear their arrears to enable the corporation to perform its operations efficiently.
However, the committee advised the government to allow Zanzibar Utilities Regulatory Authority (ZURA) to proceed with its massive port project at Mangapwani area.
The authority had designed the project to construct the huge port for loading and offloading petroleum products, but the government has allegedly intervened, with the aim of implementing it.
Mr Hassan said ZURA, the project initiators, are better positioned to execute it with great efficiency, "The committee believes that the government will allow ZURA to execute their dream project to completion."
He said it was high time Zanzibar constructed the port that allows big oil ships to dock and offload fuel to address the erratic shortage of petrol in the islands.
"The only solution to challenges of petrol shortage in the country is to construct the big port for oil and gas offloading in the country," the committee chairman told the House.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday condemned land hoarding by a few individuals, terming the unbecoming trend "economic sabotage."
Mr Hassan told the House that some individuals whom he described as "bigwigs" have been illegally amassing land, subjecting desperate wananchi to abject poverty.
He cited an investment land in Nungwi, saying one bigwig had robbed it from hapless elders.
He said the same trespassers have hoarded almost seven investment plots in Matemwe area, restricting investors seeking to develop the lands.
"As the committee presents this report here today, these areas have no lease, this is nothing but economic sabotage," charged the chairperson, arguing that obstructing investors denies the government its revenues and various taxes as well as denying employment to the country's youth.
But, generally, said the committee chairperson, land disputes have declined in the islands.