Last year, the 1,710 kilometre pipeline that transports crude oil from the port of Dar es Salaam to Ndola in Zambia burst. The first crack occurred in mid last year, at Malolo ward where along Dachi valley after which crude oil flowed into River Mwega. The river is the only source of water for domestic use in and around Malolo ward.
The water from Mwega River is used for irrigation through a mini-irrigation project funded by the Japanese government. Since then, residents have been advised not to use the water, pending laboratory tests to determine its safety. The advice does not help the villagers who have continued farming there as they have no other land to use. The villagers claim the food, despite the oil spill tastes the same.
For the time being, TAZAMA provides water for domestic use to villagers but this is not enough for the villagers to water their farms. Recently, the Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Honourable Mr Adam Malima, visited both scenes of oil spillage to get a firsthand account of what is being done to restore the areas.
At Malolo, the Deputy Minister Mr Malima asked the residents not to use water from Mwega River pending results of laboratory tests to assess the safety of the water following the pollution by crude oil that leaked into the river. "It is important that the soil is tested, this will enable us to know whether they have been polluted and to what extent," the youthful minister said.
The General Manager of TAZAMA in Tanzania, Mr Abraham Saunyama, assured the Deputy Minister that the laboratory results will be out within two weeks. Mr Malima had earlier on visited the scene of the spillage in January this year and had directed TAZAMA to clean up the area following complaints of a strong stench by the residents.
"I can see that most of the directives I made during the last visit have been implemented. However, there are still some issues to be addressed," he remarked. Residents of the area said they want to be shown results of the tests as soon as possible. A team of doctors from Muhimbili National Hospital and Kilosa District Council took blood, urine and stool samples. The results have not yet been released.
Mr Malima blasted Kilosa District Council for delaying the process of testing crops and ordered them to conduct the analysis.
"You don't seem to care about the wellbeing of the people at all, you have dillydallied on this issue for too long while the safety of people is at jeopardy," he told an official of the council.
Member of Parliament, Mr Abdulsalaam Seleman Amer, Mikumi-CCM hailed TAZAMA for conducting the clean up exercise but noted that there was still more work to be done on the ground. During a visit at Mlandizi the previous day, Mr Malima directed the management of TAZAMA to remove the top layer of soil at Mkalamo basin along Mlandizi River in a bid to ensure that the residue of crude oil is not washed into Ruvu River which supplies water to Coast and Dar es Salaam regions.
Following complaints by some residents that they had not been compensated for loss of crops, the deputy minister also ordered TAZAMA to make prompt compensations to the people. The Mlandizi incident occurred in September last year. Luckily enough, the two incidents did not result in serious harm to the people save for the stench that makes people vomit while others had running stomachs.
"It is high time you restored the environment to its natural state to allow other development activities. The restoration will also ensure that the contaminated water in the affected area is not washed away and contaminate water in Ruvu River," the deputy minister stressed. Adding; "This should be done without delay, I want the exercise to be completed within two weeks and residents should also be compensated during that period".
He was accompanied by environment specialists from the ministry and Kibaha Rural MP, Mr Abuu Hamoud Jumaa (CCM). Mr Malima also directed TAZAMA to conduct tests on the soil, animals and plants around the area to establish the extent of damage while he assured residents at the basin that they were entitled to compensation and that for those whose health has been affected, they have a right to receive medical care.
Honourable Jumaa said he has been working closely with the government to address the matter and hailed the deputy minister for the visit. Briefing the deputy minister earlier, the Chairman of Kaloleni Village, Mr Abdallah Kido, said 109 homesteads were affected by the spillage. "Ten homesteads were ruined and the remaining homesteads are affected by unpleasant smell from the crude oil," Mr Kido explained.
The residents told Mr Malima that their livestock died after drinking water contaminated by the crude oil. They also complained that the management of TAZAMA has delayed compensation. Kibaha District Administrative Secretary, Mr Jusseim Mwakipesile, said the district is cooperating with TAZAMA to identify people who were affected and making assessment on the envisaged compensations but without any professional legal aid the compensation may drag on.
TAZAMA pipeline was constructed in 1968 to transport oil from the port of Dar es Salaam to landlocked Zambia. The worst incident to face the pipeline, according to Mr Saunyama, occurred at Kwembe area in Coast region, over five years ago when three people died when trying to drill the pipe to siphon crude oil after which they caught fire during the process.