Container depot wall faces demolition over illegal permit

17Jan 2016
Aisia Rweyemamu
Guardian On Sunday
Container depot wall faces demolition over illegal permit

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) has stopped a firm with which it has entered into a long-term land lease for establishing a container depot from further construction of a concrete brick fence wall at its Workshop department premises near Vingunguti, in Dar es Salaam, after it realized that the building permit was acquired corruptly.

Container yard

The firm, African Inland Container Depot (AICD), began constructing the fence wall about three months ago, but it came to an abrupt standstill at the time President John Magufuli embarked on his mission to combat corruption and embezzlement in public service.
A Guardian on Sunday survey has established that the ICD construction on Tazara’s land lacked a building permit and was wholly owned by the firm, with the railway company only getting monthly lease fees.
Efforts to know for sure how much Tazara would get from the land lease deal proved futile.
When reached for comment, Temeke municipal authorities said the abrupt halt of the fence wall’s construction came following violation of building procedures by AICD.
“We had not issued the firm with a building permit before it began construction works. The contractor of the project was undertaking his work without relevant documents,” Municipal Engineer Benjamini Maziku said.
However, the Guardian has also leant that the fence wall has encroached other people’s land.
Tazara Head of Public Relations Conrad Simuchile told this paper recently that the plot had been leased to AICD since last year and that his firm would only benefit from monthly collections of the plot.
“We have leased the plot to AICD in a long term contract, as you know the issue of ICDs needs many years,” he elaborated
He said Tazara had already started collecting lease fees since last year from a plot that would have remained idle. However he did not disclose the terms of the lease agreement saying the agreement is, “two side contract and confidential”.
Asked for comment on the period of the contract and how TAZARA expects to benefit from the agreement, Simuchile declined to comment saying there were two plots under lease to the AICD firm, the second plot was the one under controversy.
He said a number of investors want to build ICDs close to rail station to felicitate logistics activities saying that was among the objectives of the AICD hiring of the plot at their premises.
“We had also contacted AICD to stop construction at the site because they violated our agreement” he said.
He said “The agreement we entered requires them to show us the building permit from the municipal so that we also provide authorization, but they never did so,” he said.
According to him, TAZARA has leased the area to AICD by legally following all the procedures; however our partner failed to follow the building requirements as per Municipal council’s terms.
He said that at its initial stage of the fence wall construction a building permit was placed at the site, but it was soon removed after it was realized that it had been corruptly acquired.
Simuchile said AICD skipped the council procedure in obtaining a building permit.
Contacted for comment, Temeke Municipal Engineer Benjamini Maziku said they had issued a stop order soon after learning that construction on the site lacked a building permit.
Maziku said they would soon pull down the fence wall for failure to follow the laid down procedure at the time of construction, adding however that the contractor had since lodged a demolition objection in court and Tazara was waiting for its decision.
The Guardian on Sunday met with a strong wall of security officers who denied the entry and or appointment with officials at the AICD office located within Pugu road in Temeke Municipal.
“We cannot allow you inside unless you tell us the motives of your visit” a deport guard told the reporter
However the Guardian on Sunday failed to disclose the issue to the guards saying the matters were beyond their capabilities and the reporter was later told that the official in need was out of office.
AICD Operations Manager Abeid Said, when reached for comment, denied any illegal dealing in the acquisition of the plot on which to construct the container deport, but would not be drawn into answering queries about a building permit, saying he was not the company’s spokes person.
Michael Matemanga, a resident in Mchicha area close to Tazara Workshop premises said the firm had also cut down trees beyond their construction area, holding back efforts to make the area a green belt.
“Some trees in the area were planted during Mwalimu Nyerere’s era and provided shade for pedestrian while beautifying city roads,” he said.