Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maghufuli directs ERB to review road quality

Works minister John Magufuli yesterday directed the Engineers Registration Board (ERB) to examine all roads in the country concentrating on quality and value for money. Magufuli said this after he has received the ERB report for Kilwa road, during the launch of Engineers Practicing License held in Dar es Salaam. He said that ERB must investigate all roads including those funded by donors and the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS). He said the Singida-Shelui and Kilwa roads are among donor funded projects, which have been constructed below standards. “It doesn’t need mathematical knowledge to know that ‘Kilwa Road’ is terrible and below standard. The Singida-Shelui Road was constructed recently but it is already falling apart. We need quality roads that can last longer”, said the minister. Magufuli said that his ministry will provide funds for implementation of the exercise. He said once completed, the report will be taken to the President.

Minister John Maghufuli

He insisted that ERB should appoint honest and patriotic engineers to carry out the investigation. He urged them to be extra careful in checking out district roads, where misuse of public funds had been detected. He said ERB can also play a role in the fight against corruption especially in road projects. He said that the current cost of building one kilometre of a tarmac is 1.8bn/-. He called on ERB to strike off all dishonest engineers and make sure that they are not assigned jobs. “ERB is free….it doesn’t have boundaries, and so it can penetrate everywhere. You should have an extra eye when dealing with municipal councils. Some don’t even employ qualified engineers. As a result most municipal roads are below standard with short durability,” he said. He said every district is required to employ qualified engineers to execute different construction activities including roads. According to 2005 statistics, only 46 municipalities countrywide employed qualified engineers. He said Tanzanians should maintain the roads, adding that since independence the country has managed to tarmac only 6,300 kilometres of them.He said Tanzania has enough engineers to supervise all road projects. He said the number of registered engineers in Tanzania is higher compared to other East African countries. Since its establishment in 2007, the ERB has registered 10,181 engineers. However he cautioned that municipalities are not responsible of providing permits for putting up commercial billboards on roads constructed by the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS). “Municipalities should provide permit for putting up billboards on their own roads”, he said. The minister said that Dar es Salaam was leading in violation of road reserve regulations, whereby most of the reserves have been turned into garages, markets and car parks. According to him, Dar es Salaam is the only city where petrol stations have been built randomly. He said some of the petrol stations are located on residential areas, hampering rescue in emergencies. Presenting the report on Kilwa road, ERB Board Chairman Ninatubu Lema said it was constructed below standard and had safety problems. He advised the government to make sure that local engineers are fully involved in implementation of donor funded projects especially roads. Lema said Kilwa road was constructed by a foreign firm of with funds provided by the government of Japan. “We have inspected the road, it has so many problems. Government eyes should be on these sites all the time to ensure value for money. We would suggest all those involved to be held responsible”, he said. He called on the government to give priority to local engineers, because they were more loyal compared to foreigners. Lema said the number of engineers in the country is still very low, though some progress has been made since 1961 when the country had only two qualified engineers. According to him, Tanzania needs between 60,000 and 80,000 engineers to meet the demand. He said that currently the country produces 1,500 engineers per year. Earlier, Eng Steven Mlote said they have decided to launch the engineers practicing license to promote professionalism. Mlote said the license which is provided by ERB will be given to honest and disciplined engineers only. Reached for comments, a Lawyer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Harold Sungusia said the government’s move to take legal action against the contractor of Kilwa road, depends on the type of the contract signed with the government of Japan. Sungusia said that if the Japanese government provided funds without a contractor, then the Tanzanian government can take legal measures against the contractor. He said in other contracts, donor countries provide funds and a contractor. He said under this circumstance, the government cannot take any legal measure against the contractor. “It depends on the nature of the contract signed between the two parties. If the contractor was awarded the tender by our government, then it would be easy to hold such conttractor responsible” Explaining, he said that in some cases the government could write a letter to the government of Japan and suggest it take legal measures against responsible contractor.


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