Tanzania confiscates Indian passports over tardy project


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.

Source: GCR

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  1. Whilst this action could be justified due to the importance and frustration caused by the delay this sends signal to erring contractors taking on mega projects. Project delays occur due to a variety of reasons not to mention the bureaucratic hurdles and whether enough hands have been palmed. Tanzania however should learn from their experience of getting the Chinese to build their TAZARA railway and according to the BBC documentary they did a shoddy job as well. Corruption should not be ruled out as one of the possible causes and one wonders what the funders or their invigilators were doing. Surely for each Contract there is agreed sum, programme and quite transparent terms and conditions as well liquidated damages and confiscation of passports won’t be one of them!

  2. President of Tanzania has behaved as a another dictator. He should have appointed his representatives to regularly monitor the progress on site and that person should have been reporting him, where are the faults. Is there Skilled labour shortage, Details of drawings and information from designers were not being given in time.This person should have experience and qualifications to suit the work desired. Even now President or his representative can have meetings to resolve the matter. If he needs help we can provide. But respect must exist for Indians. I have worked more than 20 years in Kenya on very large projects in Nairobi and Mombasa . Made sure projects were completed with very high quality and with in the time.

  3. If EU finance was involved, EU should have appointed their own engineers to keep an eye on the project. Why it was officially declared as completed if only 85% work was done. There is so much corruption in most African countries, in line with many countries throughout the world. Perhaps there may be some reasons behind this unsatisfactory conclusion. I hope the bosses and not the ordinary workers are punished, if it is their fault. and it comes to this. Tanzania is my birthplace and then President Julius Nyerere was my favorite politician, so kind, considerate and honest one, just like Gandhi and Mandela.