Members of Parliament yesterday unleashed a barrage of criticism on the 2011/12 Ministry of Transport budget, saying it had failed to address problems facing its sectors.
Contributing to the estimates amounting to 237,563,802,000/-, Buchosa MP Dr Charles Tizeba (CCM) said he did not support the budget because the transport ministry had not been given priority, although it faced structural problems and that its plans did not link with other sectors such as roads, tourism and power supply.
Tizeba said the government had invested a lot of money in road infrastructure compared to railway transport.
He said the cost of constructing one kilometre of a railway line was less than that of one kilometre of road.
“Most MPs have been talking about constructing good roads in their constituencies because it gives them political credibility, but if we look at it at the national level, the central railway line takes precedence over roads,” he said.
He said roads should supplement railways and not vice versa.
On Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), the MP said people were tired of statistics and what they wanted to see were operating airlines.
Opposition camp leader in parliament Freeman Mbowe said the budget for the transport ministry lacked national interest and that it should be returned to the government for changes so to fulfil expectations.
He cited Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL), ATCL, Dar es Salaam Transport (UDA), Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company which had been causing losses to the nation for failing to operate efficiently.
He asked MPs not to endorse the budget estimates for the benefit of the nation.
Mbowe, who is also Hai MP (Chadema), queried why the government didn’t want to tell Tanzanians the truth about Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (Kadco).
He said Kadco had entered into a contract with the government for 25 years which included privatising of Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) estate.
Mbowe said after the contract the investor was supposed to improve and develop the infrastructure at the airport, air services, including the runway. It obtained a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) which was guaranteed by the government of Tanzania.
He said todate the government was paying back the loans while it had not benefited from the contract and had paid the investor 9bn/- for terminating the contract.
Mbowe said the ATCL was dying but no one had been held accountable saying the government secrecy did not give hope as many public organisations were dying.
Special Seats MP Maria Hewa (CCM) said 237bn/- was not enough for the ministry to implement its plans.
“We are tired of the government’s pledges. We want to see actions,” Hewa said.
She said the central railway was crucial to the low income people and it had resulted in many problems because currently people could not even conduct small businesses they used to do in previous years.
“If we want transport to develop we are supposed to revamp the central line,” Hewa said.
Special Seats MP Angela Kairuki said it would be difficult to achieve the expected results with such a limited budget.
She said there was a need to restore the central line and address the problems facing Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara).
Mafia MP Abdulkarim Shah (CCM) asked the government to work on the advice given by MPS to avoid complaints.
“The government should take disciplinary action against government executives who do not fulfil their responsibility,” he said.
Tabling the recommendations of Parliamentary Committee for Infrastructure on the budget estimates for Transport Ministry, the chairman, Peter Serukamba, advised the government review the contract entered between UDA and Simon Group and direct the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) to conduct a special audit of the company.
Transport Shadow Minister Mhonga Ruhanywa when tabling her alternative budget said that there had been misappropriation of public funds in operating UDA.
She said the selling of government shares and changes of operating the company were aimed at using the company’s property to benefit a few people.
She said the official opposition wanted detailed explanation from the minister on the contract and the steps taken against people involved and the value of UDA properties.
Transport Minister Omar Nundu asked parliament to endorse 237,563,802,000/- for the financial year 2011/12 out of it 69,585,672,000/- for recurrent expenditure and 167,978,130,000/- for development projects.
Development projects involve 95bn/- which would come from the government and 72,978,130,000/- from development partners.
When tabling his budget estimates, minister Nundu said that the government disbursed 37.25bn/- between 2008/09 and June this year to enable ATCL to continue offering services.
Out of the money 3.97bn/- was used to pay salaries and the remaining amount was spent in paying debts and pay 155 redundant workers and other activities of the company like maintenance of the airplane.
Mbozi East MP Godfrey Zambi accused Idd Simba and Prof Juma Kapuya of causing UDA to go bankrupt. Ukerewe MP Salvatory Machemli (Chadema) hit at Prof Kapuya saying he owned 10,000 UDA shares calling for the parliament to dissolve the mini-committee that involved Prof Kapuya as a member to probe the company.
Efforts to reach Prof Kapuya for comment did not bear fruit yesterday.
However, Simba has clarified that some 270m/- deposited in his private account was a private business transaction and had nothing to do with UDA’s privatisation.