Angered by delays on a $13m water treatment plant that was supposed to have been finished two years ago, the president of Tanzania has seized the passports of its Indian builders.
After visiting the EU-funded project in Lindi on Friday 3 March, President John Magufuli told the Indian firm, Overseas Infrastructure Alliance (OIA), that it had four months to finish the job and that its employees couldn’t leave the country until it was done.
“I am not happy with the way this project is being implemented, we have agreed on four months ultimatum, after that period, I should not be blamed for the action that I will take”– John Magufuli, President of Tanzania
Grounded in the unprecedented seizure are company representative Rajendra Kumar and other officials.
OIA did not immediately respond to GCR’s request for comment.
The plant, begun in March 2013 and due for completion in March 2015, was to provide clean water 82,000 people currently undersupplied, according to OIA’s website. The $12.9m cost was funded 85% by the European Union, with the balance supplied by a German government bank, KfW.
In August 2015 Tanzania’s president at the time, Jakaye Kikwete, even laid a plaque declaring the plant finished.
But the country’s water ministry now says the plant is only 85% complete, reports the Daily News in Tanzania.
Premature: In August 2015 Tanzania’s then-president Jakaye Kikwete declared the plant finished (OIA)
President Magufuli threatened serious measures if the plant is not finished in four months.
“I am not happy with the way this project is being implemented, we have agreed on four months ultimatum, after that period, I should not be blamed for the action that I will take,” he said, reports Daily News.
Elected in November 2015, Magufuli used to be the country’s minister of works, and is nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for pushing through his policies, according to Reuters.
Reuters comments that he has been praised by Western donors for battling corruption and cutting waste, but critics accuse him of being authoritarian and unpredictable.
Among his government’s recent actions are a ban on sending copper concentrate or mineral sand for processing abroad.
Magufuli prefers to start processing minerals domestically.
His government also banned imports of coal and gypsum in November to boost the domestic mining sector, reports Reuters.