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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

No importation of power poles-govt

17th December 2012

The government has banned electric pole importation, directing Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) to buy the product from local producing firms.

The government's decision follows complaints by lawmakers, questioning the need for the state firm to continue to procure poles from other countries while Tanzania has the capacity to produce them.

Energy and Minerals deputy minister George Simbachawene issued the ban here yesterday after inspecting power projects and the local pole producers at Sao Hill in Mfindi, Iringa Region.

"It is an unforgivable sin and a very bad thing… how come the state-owned power firm fails to engage local companies to produce poles and instead imports them from abroad…. As one whose duty is to oversee energy production, surely I am very much disappointed,” he said.

“... We cannot continue to import these columns from South Africa and Kenya while we produce them ourselves…,this is a big shame to the nation and is likely to endanger the life of local industries," Simbachawene said.

Tanesco has continued to import the columns from South Africa and Kenya while claiming that production of poles in Tanzania has been inadequate, he said.

"We have the power poles here at Sao Hill, but our efforts to sell them to Tanesco have been in vain. Likewise there are reports that those who win the tender are foreigners and the funny thing is that they end up buying poles from us local producers…these acts are an embarrassment to the nation," said the deputy minister looking aggrieved.

Sao Hill Logs and Timber manager John Njenga, told the minister that the factory has the capacity to produce between 50,000 and 90,000 poles a year, adding that production has now came to a standstill after Tanesco withdrew from awarding supply tenders.

Citing the 2011/12 budget deficit, the manager said his firm won a tender to supply only 14,000 poles to Tanesco, which was less than 20 percent of the firms’ total production capacity.

Sheda General Supplies Limited director Awadhi Saidi said his factory has the capacity of producing 12,000 poles a year but has failed to acquire a supply tender from Tanesco since 2009.

Saidi informed the deputy minister that bureaucracy in the utility has forced the company to hire Kenyan companies who end up buying poles from it only to resell the same to Tanesco.

"We have customers from foreign companies who buy our poles and sell them to Tanesco, but we believe that this strategy adds expenses to the government and Tanesco in general,” he explained.

In another development, the government has said it is in the final stages to implement the rural electricity programme whereby more than 1,000 villages will be connected in the 2012/13 fiscal year.

Addressing the august House in July this year Energy and Minerals minister Prof Sospeter Muhongo said in a bid to ensure electric power reaches many people in the country, the government would reduce the cost of connection electricity effective next month.