Thursday, December 16, 2010

100 jobless as Dutch firm suspends jatropha production

A Dutch company, Bioshape Tanzania, which cultivates jatropha for biofuel here, has suspended production, rendering more than 100 people jobless. Speaking to reporters in separate interviews recently, some workers claimed that things had started going wrong last year when some officials of the company left the country without notice. “This company started its operations about two and half years ago. Initially, we received our monthly salaries on time, but as the days went on, the management started paying us late or sometimes defaulting,” said a worker, who identified himself, as Moses Mwambe. He said they planted more than 100 acres of jatropha plants at the Mavuji village farm located some 60 kilometres from Kilwa Masoko Township last year mainly for bio-diesel. “This farm has been left unattended since the workers have not been paid their salaries for a long time now,” informed Mwambe. According to him, the company managers, most of them foreigners, had been vanishing from the company one after the other, leaving behind the workers without even a caretaker. “We have seized the properties they left behind, including tractors, until we get our salaries, which have been accumulated for the past twelve months,” he stated. Mwambe accused Kilwa District officials of helping the dodging company officials hide the truth. “Some district officials have been collaborating with the company officials in taking back some of the seized properties, it seems they do not want us to get our rights,” he stated. Another worker, identified as Pili Likwate called for a thorough scrutiny by the government of any investor showing interest to invest in jatropha farming in the country. “It seems some of them are coming here for different reasons, when their mission is accomplished, they just vanish, leaving behind losses and tears to the people and government,” she said. Responding to some of the complaints, Kilwa district executive director Anu Lyimo said she was aware of the problem, but said workers and people in the affected areas should remain calm, as her office was working on the matter. “Our officials have been contacting with this investor and they have been telling us that they will come back, if things go well,” she said.


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