Paying shifted residents to give way to TPDF quarters sets good exampl

27Nov 2019
The Guardian
Paying shifted residents to give way to TPDF quarters sets good exampl

RESIDENTS of Kikombo area within the wider city agglomeration in Dodoma have something to smile about following an order by President John Magufuli that the Dodoma city director pay them decent compensation for land taken over to build new Army headquarters.

Amounts meant for compensation that the president mentioned were surprising by any standards, not as price of a plot of land but the depth of consideration shown.

Ordinarily governments take away people’s land at throw-away prices because they don’t compensate for the plot, only immovable structures.

While the building of the Army headquarters was only being given an initial push, there is a housing scheme for camp soldiers already completed in the vicinity.

There were meanwhile issues that Chief of Defence Forces General Venance Mabeyo raised with the president, relating to a rather faulty contract signed between the city and the construction firm.

For instance, soldiers resident there are supposed to be deducted from army allowances to foot the costs, but that is unworkable as it would then be a private house.

There is little doubt that the Dodoma city authorities will start paying the relocated residents as directed, starting December 1, unless explicit cause not to do so can be brought up beforehand.

Reports from Dodoma said that, amid applause from TPDF personnel and others who attended the event, the president directed the city director to bear the burden of paying a total of 3.399bn/- to the 1,500 families who were moved.

The president sort of angled this compensation burden to the city authorities as it is the city that will benefit from TPDF’s relocation to the capital, where they will be a dynamic element in enhancing productivity on the basis of the demand for goods and services once they shift.

Similarly, the president urged those set to receive compensation to put the money to good use by buying land elsewhere and proceed to build modern houses.

On the basis of the president’s other remarks, there could be a few complications down the road but since municipal and other administrators know precisely where the sentiments of the president are inclined, this will not get out of hand.

The president asked the Dodoma regional and district authorities to oversee the process of identifying residents entitled for compensation. That is habitually where the games start, with fake names and eligible people sidelined, with previous governments leaving all such claims to be resolved in courts.

The president rightly cautioned that residents ought to follow up their payments personally rather than use middlemen. As often happens, a mafia of sorts builds around such funds and the poor holders of customary land title deeds or such other documents are ignored.

This becomes costly indeed to the hapless residents, who are usually without the resources to pursue long court cases, which is precisely why and how the president’s advice comes in very handy.