Mr. Ole Naiko
TIC: US firm claims on plots ‘unfounded and mudslinging’
The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) yesterday dismissed claims by a US firm that it pulled out of a Dar es Salaam housing project, due to a bitter fallout with the government.
Speaking to journalists in the city yesterday, TIC Executive Director Emmanuel ole Naiko described the allegations as unfounded and mudslinging, saying the firm, ‘Colom Investment Limited’ failed to comply with the country’s laid down laws and procedures for investors who want to acquire land for investment.
“The company came to Tanzania sometimes this year and went straight to the rural areas and negotiated directly with the villagers, entering into agreement for purchase of land plots,” he said.
He further said that TIC informed the company that going directly to the villagers to seek land was a wrong approach and that it was already too late for the centre to reverse the process.
According to Ole Naiko, the firm approached the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlements Development where they were advised on the Tanzania Land Policy and Land Legislation particularly the Land Act Number 4 and Village Land Act Number 5 of 1999.
“Due to provisions in the Land Act, the investors were advised and agreed to pay compensation before they could acquire any legal rights over the land,” he said, stressing adherence to the laid down laws and procedures for investors seeking to acquire land for investment.
The TIC boss’ reactions came amid last week’s report carried in an English daily (not The Guardian) quoting Colom Investment Limited’s vice-president (operations), Dr Gaidi Faraj as saying that his firm had discontinued plans to build some 212 mortgage housing units following a bitter fallout with the government.
Ole Naiko said they were however warned that the process of transferring village land to general land and later to the company would take time since it is well regulated by the law to ensure that no villager remains landless.
After paying the compensation in April this year amounting to 288, 298,440bn/-, the company’s representative went to TIC in June, this year for explanation on the procedure to get land for the proposed project.
He added: “The Policy and the Land Act prohibits foreign investors purchasing land, subdividing and selling it to foreigners.What is allowed is to invest on the land.”
Ole Naiko said from the beginning the government gave support to the company by availing it opportunity to meet with the Investors Complaints Bureau (ICB) under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary.
At this meeting, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands assured the investors that he would personally assist in speeding up the process so that they get the land for the proposed investment.
“The investor requested an appointment with the ICB and he got it without any constraints whatsoever and the ICB met very promptly to resolve the matter,” he said.
Dr Faraj claimed that the Board of Directors had made the decision after the government failed to offer the company a letter of allotment for a 15-acre plot in Dar es Salaam’s Bunju area.
By way of fast-tracking the investor, the Ministry of Lands went further and wrote a letter with Ref. No. LD/287240/20 of August 4, 2010 to Kinondoni Municipal Director requesting the authority to give maximum co-operation to the investor while in process to get land.
“That is why following this type of assurance, TIC issued certificate of Incentives to the company to accelerate the process of land acquisition for their proposed project,” he explained.
Ole Naiko explained that while this positive government effort was going on, they wrote a very adverse and hostile letter to the US Ambassador to Tanzania titled: “Request for an alert to Americans doing business in Tanzania for possible fraud.” “This letter was simply an insult and very damaging to Tanzania,” he said.
He added that the company went on and wrote another very arrogant letter last month titled: Refund for Bunju and Cancellation of the Project.”
The TIC boss explained that it has never been the intention of the government to frustrate investors and in this case, the Colom Investment Limited and the authority had done whatever was necessary to facilitate the company’s plans to invest in Tanzania as guided by policy and legislation. “We advise foreign investors to refrain from going directly to the villages to purchase land. Instead contact the agency where senior land officers will provide appropriate guidelines and work with investors through the process of land acquisition,” he said.
Ole Naiko said that as a government agency charged with promotion, facilitation and provision of after-care services to investors, TIC does not honestly understand the motive behind the firm’s actions to the extent of tarnishing the good name of Tanzania.
“We call upon other American investors to continue investing in Tanzania,” he explained.
As of 2009 the total number of American investment projects that have been registered by TIC is 167 valued at USD663.3m, he said, adding that the figures exclude those in the extractive industries.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
The moral of this story therefore is not to invest in Tanzania and heed the requested alert from the US investor.