Construction of Crucial Arusha-Holili-Taveta Four-lane Highway in Limbo



By ADAM IHUCHA-- Thousand of people in northern Tanzania are protesting construction of the much needed Arusha-Holili-Taveta highway over delays in payment of compensation.

This throws the construction phase of a multi-million-dollar four-lane dual carriageway due to commence in April 2014 into disarray.

Tanzania has raised only Tsh 1 billion ($649350.65), out of Tsh 28 billion ($18.19 million) required to compensate nearly 1,000 people whose houses, will be demolished.

Information obtained shows that nearly 160 houses will be affected along a 40-km by-pass through Arusha - Usa River town. 

The by-pass starts from Ngaramtoni to Kisongo, Arusha airport all the way to Njiro and Moshono suburbs on the southeast to connect with the Moshi road at Usa River.

“We are not going to move an inch without being full compensated. We are prepared for a battle to defend our rights,” a leader of protesters, Mr Arthur Sixtus said. 

Mr Sixtus says that the state overdue compensation has distracted their plans as they were stopped to either modify or use their houses as collateral since January 2012.

Arusha Regional Manager for Tanzania Roads Network Agency (TANROADS), Engineer Deusdedit Kakoko, said that the state is looking for funds.

“To raise Tsh28 billion ($18.19million) for compensation is not a joke. These people should start to move as the government is looking for funds,” Engineer Kakoko noted.

He put it clear that with or without immediate compensation, the government will take over the area for the road construction.

According to him, the land occupiers should understand that the areas they hold are no longer theirs.

“The only rights for them is to demand for re-valuation of their properties, but they must depart” Engineer Kakoko.

Human rights lawyer, Ms Miriam Matinda says that section 49 (3) of the land Act of 1999, cap. 113 provides for the right to compensation over the revoked rights of occupancy.

“All land occupiers are entitled to prompt and adequate compensation. As a government which upholds the rule of law and good governance should compensate the affected people timely and promptly,” says Ms Matinda, who is also an advocate of the High Court of Tanzania. 

The Arusha-Moshi road project is part of the 240km long regional project linking Arusha, the Community headquarters, and Voi town in Kenya. 

Upgrading of the 85km long Voi-Holili section in Kenya is already underway, the official explained.

The entire project, whose pre-investment studies have completed, will cost an estimated $560 million. 
The AfDB has granted nearly $300 million towards the crucial highway.

The EAC Secretariat say the available funds can only finance the 42 kilometre by-pass in Arusha and rehabilitation of a 35km Arusha-Usa River section of the 110km highway.

"We expect the civil works for the by-pass to start in the coming months", EAC Principal Engineer Hoseah Nyangweso explained, adding that rehabilitation of the Arusha- Usa River road will start at Sakina area and would be expanded to a four-lane up to Tengeru, some 20km away from the city.

Engineer Nyangweso could not explain when funds will be available to cover the entire Tanzanian side of the regional road. 

However, sources said there was a possibility to come from AfDB, the traditional financier of road projects in East Africa.

The road is being massively rehabilitated in order to create another major transport corridor in the region, linking the Mombasa port with northern Tanzania and land-locked countries.

Official launching of the massive road-upgrading project would take place in April this year, according to the EAC director of Infrastructure Phillip Wambugu who said once the civil works commence, the section would be completed within three years.

"Once this road is completed, it would enable transporters to connect the Mombasa port with the rest of Tanzania and Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda without necessarily going through Nairobi", he said in Nairobi recently, adding; " It is our policy now to go for by-passes especially for trucks. There is no business for heavy trucks to pass through our cities, except for creating unnecessary traffic jams".

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