SO they say that experience is the best teacher and it is unquestionable for now whichever one looks at the way Hoima-Tanga oil pipeline project is picking up.
Though many public projects have been delayed as a result the public becoming unwilling to part with their land with some becoming violent, the case of Hoima-Tanga project residents is the opposite.
The residents have welcomed the project with both hands and with high expectations that it will offer them thousands of direct and indirect jobs once it will pick up. That was a nasty experience during the implementation of the Mtwara-Dar es Salaam gas pipeline which showed a fierce resistance from the residents.
In a recent report, dubbed ‘Balancing Infrastructure Development and Community Livelihoods,’ unveiled in June this year, some highlights were featured from the gas pipeline which one ought to be aware of.
According to the report compiled by the Oxfam Tanzania and Haki Rasilimali organizations, the researchers found out that the communities which were affected by the eviction to pave the way for the project were dissatisfied with the general consultation process.
The report further points that for the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) to be implemented it relied on village meetings as key consultations, in spite of the existing evidence that the meetings attracted low turnout especially amongst women.
The report has also cited lack of transparency in compensation terms as another challenge for some projects to be implemented, as the some affected residents had feelings of dissatisfaction, unrealistic expectations and misinformation.
For that matter, according to the Northern Coalition for Oil and Gas (NCOG) Chairman, Mr Josiah Severe, an alliance of civil society organizations for oil and gas, in a press conference held here in Tanga recently, the government ought to be commended for enlightening the people first and that opened ways for Hoima-Tanga pipeline project to be implemented with ease.
That made President John Magufuli and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda to lay the foundation stone on August 5 this year signaling determination He was against the arrangement of one industry for each district as planned by some other regions, arguing that strategically emulating such mode for Tanga was to do unfair to the regions considering that every district has a variety of raw materials for different industries.
“We want fish processing industries, cement industries, juice industries and others using fruits. Almost each district could offer raw materials to cater for the raw materials needed for all such industries,” he states.
“We don’t want to confine ourselves to ‘one industry in each district, we need competition,” he says. He has directed all district councils to set aside lands for investment so that when an investor comes they could have choices on type of investment.
So far, the region has three cement factories: Rhino Cement, Tanga Cement and Kilimanjaro Cement which the President Magufuli launched recently.
“In fact, in the near future, not more than two years, we are going to invite the President to lay a foundation stone for the construction of another cement industry,” he assures.
Tanga is also one of the regions leading in growing cashew nuts, and the region plans to set up a big warehouse with capacity of storing 10,000 tonnes of cashew nuts. “With this plan, we want industries to process the cashew nuts,” he says.
Stakeholders are optimistic that should the collapsed factories be revived it would be a major way of creating employments for jobless to kick start the construction with no lamentations over land.
“We believe that through cooperation with our two governments in educating and motivating the citizens to participate in the project will enhance transparency,” he pointed out, adding: “this will involve guiding the citizens on procedures of being given fair compensation in time.
” To show the high corporation from the government, President Magufuli while addressing the locals said that any person deserving compensation from the acquired land would be paid/compensated, adding: “Because the survey had been conducted and geographical pictures taken to identify the areas for compensation.
”He said the pipeline would cover 1,445 kilometers from Hoima to Tanga, where 1,149 kilometers part of it will be in Tanzania, snaking through eight regions.
Tanga being one of the regions in study will have its districts of Kilindi, Handeni, Korogwe, Muheza, Mkinga benefiting solely from the project. Contacted for a comment Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), Acting Managing Director, Mr Kapulya Musomba said that their experience learnt from Mtwara gas pipeline is that the project will be of much benefit to the locals.
He said that unlike the Mtwara gas project, the Hoima-Tanga oil project will ‘involve a wide participation of leaders’ from the local to the regional level. Mr Musomba said the best practice will be to conduct intensive awareness campaign among the members of the public who will be affected with the pipeline construction before compensating them.
“The major problem I have seen when implementing the Mtwara-Dar es Salaam gas pipeline was the short period on public sensitization and acquiring the land for the construction, something that has been addressed on undertaking Hoima-Tanga project implementation,” he points out.
He further said that the compensations in Mtwara followed all procedures as stated in the country’s laws, including the introduction of a special desk to hear complaints.
According to TPDC’s Legal Officer, Godluck Shirima, who also oversees the Hoima-Tanga oil project, one thing noteworthy is that the pipeline will pass far away from human settlements, and hence avoid facing human activities and heavy compensations.
On his part, Tanga Regional Commissioner (RC) Martin Shigela the residents in Tanga have welcomed the project after learning of its envisioned social and economic benefits to them.
He cited a case where the residents of Chongoleani village have already set an example of being compensated to pave the way for the project construction.
In another related development, Mr Shigela calls upon area residents to reap from the economic opportunities in the project by initiating other income generation activities there.
He said the forthcoming Tanga Business Forum which is scheduled for next Thursday will help in shedding light on trade and investment opportunities for the residents. The forum is a brainchild of the Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN) in collaboration with the Tanga regional leaders.
According to Mr Shigela, the event is expected to attract at least 400 stakeholders, including small entrepreneurs, traders and business experts who will share experiences on how to chart way forward to tap economic potential of the region.
On her side, Tree of Hope, Executive Director, Ms Fortunata Manyeresa, a Tanga based non-governmental organisation, tipped women to turn up in big numbers and acquire entrepreneurship skills there instead of just remaining as observers in the pipeline project.