Chinese contractors in the country have said the government has not completed paying a Sh400 billion outstanding debt, and they have asked the government to pay them immediately so that they can complete the construction of 2,405.6 km trunk roads.
Johnson Chii, the vice chairman of the Chinese Contractors Association (CCA), said the money is owed since 2009, and has affected their ability to proceed with the work.
He said though they have faith that the government will pay them, they want to remind it that it should pay them in time so that they can complete the work, as currently nearly all Chinese road contractors have exhausted their account fallback capacity to finance contracted road construction.
He said the situation may soon become worse as they need to pay their workers every month’s end.
“The serious consequences of this situation have witnessed the exhaustion of our member companies’ lines of credit from the banks and the temporary suspension or slowdown of some road projects being implemented,” he elaborated.
He said CCA which is made up of more than 20 road contractors had been writing to the ministries of Works, the Treasury and the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) regarding their dues, but they have been told to wait.
The chairman stressed that members of his association know the importance and urgency of the unfinished roads and were committed to executing the projects, but blamed the government’s repeated failure to make payments as causing delays of the road projects.
He however said CCA members hope that under the new finance minister payment of their money will be speeded up.
Chii also said the delay in payment and the consequent stalling of the projects has led to loss of jobs by some local employees.
This is the second time that the Chinese road contractors have asked the government to speed up paying their dues, as last year in November the chairman of the committee, Wang Jingli asked the government to speed the payments.
He said delay in paying their debt is affecting operations.
“In the past few years, our member companies have played a major role and contributed substantially to infrastructure development in Tanzania, especially in the road construction sector. Among the 3,673.9 kilometers of trunk roads under construction in the country, 2,405.6 km are being built by our member companies. It is around 65.5 per cent of the total length, but we are not getting our money since 2009,” he said. “We strongly appeal to the Tanzania government and amicably urge the Ministry of Works and Tanroads to take instant and positive action to honour the signed contracts and expedite the payment of huge amounts of money that is due to our member companies without further delay. The delay will not just affect us but Tanzanian nationals as well,” he emphasized.
Jingli named some of the road projects which might be affected if the government fails to pay them in time as Kigoma –Kidahwe, Kidahwe–Uvinza –Ilunde, Tabora –Ndono, Isaka –Ushirombo, Kyaka –Bugene, Mwandiga –Manyokovu and Nyangunge –Musoma /Kisesa Bypass (Musoma –Mwanza crossing point).
Other road projects affected are the upgrade of Sam Nujoma Road, Kigoma –Lusahunga, Dareda-Babati-Minjingu, Ruvu Bridge construction, Bonga –Babati, Kondoa Access and widening of Kilwa Road.
Buzirayombo –Geita, Geita –Usagara, Singida –Katesh, Katesh –Dareda, Manyoni –Itigi –Chaya, Puge –Tabora, Dodoma –Mayamaya and Kanazi –Kiza-Kibaoni are other projects that would be affected, he said.
When contacted, Tanroads Information Officer Aisha Malima refused to comment, asking the reporter to forward questions to the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, who would then assign the responsible officer to prepare answers.
During the April session of the National Assembly, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure issued a report on the performance of the government on infrastructure for the period between April 2011 and April this year, which said that most major road projects commissioned in the 2011/2012 financial year were being carried out on credit.
Committee chairman Peter Serukamba told the House that until March this year, three months before tabling the new budget, the government had disbursed Sh351.977 billion out of Sh609.743 billion allocated in 2011/2012 budget for the roads sector.
A large portion of money disbursed this ending financial year had been spent in offsetting debts accumulated while implementing the previous budget (2010/2011) amounting to Sh420 billion.