Tanzania: Ministry ordered to recover 3,000ha at Saadani Park

At the launch of the EcoEnergy project in Bagamoyo.
Guardian (Tanzania) | 20 January 2015

Ministry ordered to recover 3,000ha at Saadani Park

By David Kisanga

The parliamentary committee for Lands, Natural Resources and Environment yesterday ordered the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development to recover 3,000 hectares of land the latter had sold to an investor - EcoEnergy Ltd in Bagamoyo District, Coast Region.
According to the committee, the 3,000 hectares are within 20,000 hectares of Saadani National Park in the district.
The committee said EcoEnergy Ltd acquired the hectares of land from the former investor - RAZABA Ranch who intended to grow sugarcane.
“According to Government Notice 2081 of 2005, the government declared the 20,000 hectares of land a part of the national park, but the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development decided to sell it to the said investor,” said the committee’s Chairman, James Lembeli.
The Chairman was speaking before officials from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development and Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism who attended the committee’s meeting.
Lembeli said it is shocking to see that the ministry in question had decided to give the investor over 3,000 hectares of land in 2008 while knowing that the land is already a part of the National Park.
He said he was convinced that some officials from the ministry were bribed in the process.
According to Lembeli, the committee does not recognise the investor as the lawful owner of the said land but rather the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (the National Park).
Lembeli who is also a Member of Parliament for Kahama has therefore ordered the ministry of Lands to hold talks with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and find means of recovering the land.
“You should find a portion of land somewhere else to allocate to that investor. Unlawful distribution of land by the ministry can be a source of civil war in the society,” he said.
Lembeli warned the government against using the parliamentary committee to endorse its dubious means.
He advised that his committee, the Land Ministry and the investor should find solution to the matter as soon as possible.
However, the resolutions should be submitted before the committee in the next parliamentary sitting scheduled for later this month in Dodoma.
One of the committee members, Susan Kiwango cautioned the government to be extra careful on the matter since it is of national interest, “we are going to lose our national parks if we continue with such acts, why should we allow one individual to own hectares of land within the National Park?”
She said the government should not tolerate such issues, calling for urgent measures to save the park.
For his part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Alphayo Kidata said it is difficult for Eco-energy to accept losing the land since the firm has already invested a lot on the said land.
Sometime last year, thousands of villagers of Gama Makaani, Matipwili and Makurunge, located 40 kilometres from Bagamoyo, expressed their concern over the government’s plan to forcefully evict them from their village land and give it to an investor.
According to the investor, Anders Bergfors, his company, Eco-energy was planning on acquiring a total of 11,200 hectares from the former RAZABA Ranch but the villagers argued otherwise saying the proposed land under investment was 20,639 hectares and not 11,200 hectares as the investor claimed.
When contacted for comments, Managing Director for Eco-energy, Tanzania, Anders Bergfors, refuted the allegations saying they were baseless and unfounded saying it was the villagers who invaded the area.
According to the investor, the company first conducted sensitisation campaigns in which all villagers were involved, then launched demonstration farms at Matipwili village and when the villagers saw the demonstration rice farm schemes, they welcomed the project except for some few villagers from Gama Makaani.
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