AFTER a long wait for the Mchuchuma and Liganga project to take off, the year 2023 marked a fresh development, bringing hopes for its implementation.
This followed the government’s decision to announce compensating residents to pave way for the project to start.
In September 2011 China’s Sichuan Hongda Co. Ltd. inked a 3 billion US dollars deal with Tanzania to mine coal and iron ore in the country, but the project never materialised.
Three years after President Samia Suluhu Hassan assumed the power, the scheme has become a reality, particularly after her assurance that all the 1,142 residents surrounding the project area will be compensated accordingly.
The Head of State said some 15.424bn/- will be paid by the government to all the 1,142 residents, whose land was being taken for the project.
President Samia noted that all the compensations will be paid effectively; adding that if there is any part, where the experts have made a mistake, she will make sure that it is corrected so that all the villagers get their rights.
During the 2020 General Election campaign, when Dr Samia was the running mate for the post of vice presidency, she promised that the government will make sure that the project becomes a reality and the affected residents promptly compensated.
“When I came to Njombe Region in 2020 during the presidential election campaign, I promised that the government would pay compensation to the people around the project area, to pave way for the project to start… today, the promise has been fulfilled and the people are being paid their compensations,” President Samia pointed out.
She further noted that after completing the compensation exercise, the project will continue to benefit the residents of Ludewa and the country at large, especially through various economic opportunities including employment, business and the taxes collected by the government.
The envisioned investment in the area will involve the construction of the Mchuchuma Coal mine, a 220kv transmission line between Mchuchuma and Liganga for supplying the Liganga Metallurgical Complex and an accompanying 600-megawatt (MW) thermal power station from which, 250 MW would be used by the iron plant and 350 MW going into the national grid.
Commenting, a Geologist Dr Dalaly Kafumu, who was also a former Commissioner for Minerals said the project will transform the country’s economy because the cost being incurred to import iron from abroad will end and all industries will use domestic iron.
Speaking during the event, Minister for Investment, Industry and Trade Dr Ashatu Kijaji said that the project will start to be implemented in the financial year 2023/2024.
Dr Kijaji said that the government intends to see this strategic project implemented, for the country to use locally produced iron instead of importing the material and products from abroad.
“The government spends over 1 billion US dollars per year to import iron from abroad, but if we implement the Mchuchuma, Liganga project we will save such huge amount of money and in fact, the project will bring in more money by selling iron abroad,” Dr Kijaji said.
She noted that the projects such as Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project (JNHPP), Standard Gauge Railway and construction of Kigongo-Busisi Bridge use a large amount of iron, which is currently imported. Minister Kijaji urged the beneficiaries to use the money for investment in development activities after being given education by the government through financial institutions on how to spend their money.
She further urged the traders to grab the opportunity and ensure that they benefit from the project being implemented in the country.
For his part, Director General of National Development Corporation (NDC) Dr Nicolaus Shombe said Mchuchuma and Liganga project tops the list of his office priorities.
Dr Shombe noted that geological survey conducted by NDC in 2013, showed that there are 428 million tonnes of coal in an area of 30 square kilometres that can be mined for more than 140 years.
He added that the survey also discovered more than 126 million tonnes of iron that could be mined for over 56 years.
“The money includes interest of 40.255 per cent, which has increased following the evaluation conducted in 2018, which showed that a total of 10.997bn/- should be paid in compensation to the affected persons,” he said.
Particularly, he said the compensation exercise has been carried out transparently where the NDC, Ludewa District Council and the Chief Government Valuer met with the beneficiaries one by one and they agreed with the terms and signed the contract for the compensation with interest to be paid in their bank account.
On the other hand, Dr Shombe said the compensated people agreed to vacate the area within 90 days, to allow the commencement of the project.