Dar es Salaam: While the minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Mustafa Mkulo says that the country’s economy is in good shape despite rising inflation, Chinese contractors want the government to pay them bills amounting to Sh 287 billion. Speaking yesterday to the Guardian on Sunday on behalf of 20 Chinese contractors awarded tenders for road construction in various parts of the country, Chinese contractor Wang Chi said despite being promised by the government in November that their money would be settled by the end of last month the government did not walk the talk.
Due to the government’s failure to effect payment, the 20 Chinese contractors would not be able to continue with the construction of 2,405.6 km trunk roads, he said, noting that the government owes them the money since 2009.
“The government has been dilly dallying to pay us the money so that we could proceed with the construction work. In November Minister for Works John Magufuli promised to pay the money by December, but December has gone without fulfilling that promise,” he asserted.
He said he was surprised to learn that that the government could fail to effect payment, especially after Minister Magufuli asked the Treasury to make a timely payment to all Chinese road contractors.
As consequence of the delay, there is exhaustion of member companies’ lines of credit from the banks and temporary suspension or slowdown of some road projects being implemented, he said.
Early November, the chairman of the Tanzania Chinese Road Contractors Wang Jingli said they have been writing to the ministry reminding it to pay their outstanding balances but the government has been silent. The association, made up of 20 or so road contractors had been writing to the Ministry of Works and the Treasury as well as the Tanzania Roads Agency (Tanroads) regarding their dues, but they have been told to wait.
He stressed that the contractors know the importance and urgency of finishing the roads and were committed to executing the projects, but blamed the government’s repeated failure to make payments as causing delays.
“In the past few years, our member companies have played a major role and contributed substantially to the infrastructure development of Tanzania, especially in the road constructions sector. Among the 3,673.9 kilometers of trunk roads under construction in the country, 2,405.6 km are being built by our member companies. It is around 65.5 per cent of the total length, but we are not getting our money since 2009,” he said
“We strongly appeal to the Tanzania government and amicably urge the Ministry of Works and Tanroads to take instant and positive action to honour the signed contracts and expedite the payment of the huge amount of money due to our member companies without further delay. The delay may not affect us only but Tanzanian nationals as well,” he said.
Some of the roads which will be affected if the government does not embark on settling the huge arrears to constructors are Kigoma -Kidahwe, Kidahwe-Uvinza -Ilunde, Tabora -Ndono, Isaka -Ushirombo, Kyaka -Bugene, Mwandiga –Manyokovu and Nyangunge -Musoma /Kisesa Bypass (Musoma -Mwanza boundary).
Other road projects affected include the upgrading of Sam Nujoma Road, Kigoma -Lusahunga, Dareda-Babati-Minjingu, Ruvu Bridge construction, Bonga -Babati, Kondoa Access and widening of Kilwa Road. Others are Buzirayombo -Geita, Geita –Usagara, Singida -Katesh, Katesh -Dareda, Manyoni -Itigi -Chaya, Puge –Tabora, Dodoma -Mayamaya and Kanazi -Kiza-Kibaoni.
Minister for Works Magufuli could not be reached through his mobile phone for comment.