TANZANIA – President John Magufuli has issued 10,000 hectares of land to one of Tanzania’s business and industrial moguls, Mr Said Salim Bakhresa, to establish a sugar plant, at the same time warning land hoarders and speculators that they risk having their title deeds revoked.
The president asked the prominent businessman to use the land for sugar production since the country can grow and produce its own instead of importing it.
It was an offer that came with further good news for Mr Bakhresa after Dr Magufuli asked authorities at the Dar es Salaam Port to release the tycoon’s consignment of sugar that was initially withheld by the government.
The president was speaking at Mwandege in Mkuranga District, Coast Region, during an official inauguration of a new company, Bakhresa Food Products Limited, which produces a variety of soft drinks.
According to Dr Magufuli, the government has offered the 10,000 hectares after being convinced that Mr Bakhresa was investing in the country for the benefits of all Tanzanians.
“You are the best example of businesspeople we want … the best tax payer and you have created many employment opportunities. If there is anyone who has been blaming you, that person should be a devil,’’ the president remarked.
The head of state said the plot of land was offered freely to Mr Bakhresa after confiscating it from an investor who had failed to use it for the benefit of the country.
He asked the prominent businessman to venture into sugar plantation and put up processing industries, promising that even if he needed another plot of land, the government was ready to offer it.
“The industrial sugar you will be producing will help you to avoid importing sugar to run your industries and you will equally sell the product to other businesspeople and at the same time creating more employment opportunities to our people,’’ Dr Magufuli observed.
The president used the occasion to caution people who have huge chunks of land that were not being developed.
“As per the law, I have the mandate to repossess all plots of land. I understand that there are many people, including former political leaders, who own large undeveloped plots of land. All of them risk losing it,’’ he warned.
Dr Magufuli further issued a two-month ultimatum to Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) to connect the Bakresa Food Products Limited factory with electricity, failure of which he would take appropriate measures against the utility’s officials.
“I am at a loss to see TANESCO officials only watching while you started putting up this industry long time ago while they have failed to bring electricity here …you ask yourself questions if these people are really serious with business,’’ he wondered.
He said there was no time for the business-as-usual stance, adding: “Today, October 6, I direct Tanesco to make sure that by the end of December there is electricity here.’’
According to the president, the delay in connecting the factory with electricity raised the cost of production and that employees were likely to be paid less.
He directed TANESCO Regional Manager Martin Madulu to make sure electricity was available at the company within two months. “If anyone causes any stumbling block to this directive, tell me immediately,’’ Dr Magufuli demanded.
His directive came after Bakhresa Group of Companies Director Abubakar Bakhresa pleaded with the head of state to look at the possibility of getting 10 megawatts of electricity, saying the cost of running the factory was higher because they were using generators for production work.
Earlier, the company’s Director of Communications, Mr Hussein Sufian, said the firm has a total of 62 hectares with two industries that are producing soft drinks.
According to him, the 120-million US dollar (240bn/-) project has so far created more than 600 direct employment and another 380 part-time jobs.
“There are 40 expatriates who were employed in 2014 and as we continue imparting expertise to more Tanzanians, they will automatically leave the company after their contracts expire to enable locals to man all posts.