Saturday, May 25, 2013

Furious legislators slams the government over Mtwara mayhem

SOM E legislators most of whom from the opposition camp have urged the government not to use force in order to calm down the irate Mtwara residents who went on rampage mid this week in protest against the government’s insistence to construct gas pipeline. Instead, they have advised the government to use other means such as peaceful talks that should be a better standing point in order to restore peace among some Mtwara residents who have shown their disappointment over the construction of a gas pipeline.  The legislators echoed their voices on Thursday this week after the National Assembly was forced to adjourn prematurely its normal morning sessions following a crisis that had erupted in Mtwara town in which people said to be protesting the government’s plan to construct a 532 Km gas pipeline from the region to Dar es Salaam clashed with anti-riot police. In an exclusive interview with The Guardian here on Thursday morning at Parliament grounds, some legislators have suggested that, force used by the police to settle the matter is not a solution but rather is likely to ignite the situation which might spread all over the country. They said that, the government had enough time to take precautions over the matter amid early warning when the situation erupted for the first time in last year and resumed in early January this year. The timeframe was enough to educate the people, says Tundu Lissu a legislator for Singida East (Chadema). He says that, the government should arrange peaceful talks with the residents including their leaders in order to educate them thoroughly about the issue instead of using unnecessary force being applied by the police thinking that would help solve the matter. However, he said the use of force might escalate and sow some seeds of discords among peace loving Tanzanians.  “This is an issue which has developed anger with some people who have a grudge with the government after having failed to give them special attention as they deserve for long time, and is not politically motivated”. He said adding that, in order to listen to their grievances have to be calmed down through peaceful talks. He also noted that, the government should work on their people’s views to see what they need to be done for them bearing in mind the logical factors of the background history that, the southern regions of Mtwara and Lindi are lagging behind in terms of economic development since independence. The Minister for East Africa Cooperation Samwel Sitta, in his comments has said that, Mtwara residents should not worry about their fate which he said would be benefiting with the presence of the gas once it starts operations. The government has assured them of the establishment of a cement factory and a fertilizer both of which would create employment opportunities to the people in the southern regions, whereby preparations of the construction for the installation of a 300 MW electricity power plant is underway in Mtwara town and this will be able to supply power through in other regions of Ruvuma. He further noted that, all these developments intended for them are not going at a go but have to be moved slowly by slowly as they are long term planed, and in view of this, they shouldn’t worry about them for any case. He has also urged the government through the ministry of Energy and Minerals to concentrate on their idea of educating the people about the whole project as all plans are within the government’s strategic plans for the 2013/14 financial year. Freeman Mbowe, a leader of the opposition camp in Parliament said that, the problem of Mtwara people is associated with the government who are primarily to look for the lasting peaceful solution. He however opposed the use of force as not being a sole means to end up the escalating problem. He said the involvement of all human rights, religious institutions and civil societies is necessary and an open up gear towards the attainment of peace in the region, however, he added that, the use of force is not a solution to end the problem and that the government should take appropriate steps at this time when it’s at infancy stage. He has suggested the government should use other means by incorporating political parties as this is a national issue which needs to be incorporated with all political parties bearing in mind the fact that, ‘[we are all Tanzanians irrespective of our parties’ affiliations’. However, he noted that, legislators must be shown the already contracts entered by the government in gas project and be open to law makers otherwise, he cautioned that, the government would continue being harassed as it doesn’t want to be transparent. Aden Rage (CCM) Tabora urban noted that, the on-going Mtwara crisis is being instigated by some few crook politicians whom he described to have no mercy and are trying by all means possible to make their mischief pass through. However, he noted that these are trying to sabotage the economy in one way or another and has urged Tanzanians not to entertain such indifferences. He added that, big corrupt political elements are against the country’s development seeking an opportunity to feed up their positions for the sake of their selfishness. However, he has urged the government to bring closer the people of Mtwara into a mutual of understanding to solve the matter for the welfare of the nation. John Cheyo, an MP for Bariadi East (UDP) has blamed the government to have not taken drastic measures to curb with the crisis, despite the Minister for Home Affairs Dr. Emmanuel Nchimbi issued an early warning last week before the budget speech for the Ministry of Energy was tabled in Parliament. He said that, all these are caused due to negligence shown by the police force which they think that the use of force would yield a lasting solution, but rather it would create grudge among the people.He has also urged the people of Mtwara not to panic as the sale of gas is not yet started and once is through, then they would also benefit a lot. He also noted that, the transfer of the gas should not worry them as the government is doing this for the biggest users are in Dar es Salaam including industries which use higher electricity power capacity for industrial production.  James Mbatia, a nominated MP for NCCR-Mageuzi said that, the nation needs to change its environment and the capacity of thinking when it comes to the issue of disaster management into solving any people’s crisis in the society. He noted that, the government and other institutions in the country should sit around into solving  a  table for conciliation to solve the issue of Mtwara residents and the must use . For the Parliament to suspend its sessions administratively was correct as it is an apex institution which has an overall control of the government in power. Tabling his budget estimates for 2013/2014 in Dodoma which sought 1.1trn/- “to revolutionize power provision in the country”, Energy and Minerals minister Prof Sospeter Muhongo told the House that there was no way the government could back down on implementing the Mtwara-to-Dar es Salaam gas pipeline project, which is widely associated with popular discontent leading to the mayhem.
“The project is under way and the government will not halt the project as it is meant for the development of the Mtwara Region and the country at large. The architectural designs as well as the compensation plan for 3,094 people required to give way to the project have been done,” he said.

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