The government yesterday announced its decision to construct new structures to accommodate over 600 former tenants at Magomeni Kota in Dar es Salaam who were evicted more than five years ago to allow construction of modern residential buildings.
It is a climax to the prolonged wrangle between the tenants and Kinondoni Municipal Council that resulted from the breach of their agreements. According to the agreement, the ex-tenants were required to vacate the area to pave way for the construction of modern residential structures.
Furthermore, the council is obliged to pay rent to each tenant for one year after which the tenants could move to the new structures as owners or tenants on completion of construction work.
Speaking to the ex-tenants and other residents in Dar es Salaam yesterday, President John Magufuli said that upon completion of the buildings, the 644 tenants will move to the new structures and stay for free for five years as compensation while the government will be working on modalities of selling the houses to them. The president assured the residents that he will disburse funds this month for the construction work to begin in the next two months.
"Give us time to decide whether the structures should be built by the Tanzania Building Agency (TBA) or National Housing Corporation (NHC)," the president said.
He directed the contractor who will be awarded the tender of building the houses to complete the work as soon as possible to allow the tenants to move to the new buildings. "I am giving you one year to complete this work ... although you can do it even in less than one year.
If we have managed to build 20 flats with four floors each at the University of Dar es Salaam within six months to accommodate over 4,000 students why not the construction of these residential buildings," Dr Magufuli insisted.
He said the government decided to intervene over the dispute, which lasted for many years without getting a proper solution, causing anguish among 644 former tenants who have been fighting for their rights.
"These people were evicted to allow the construction of multi-purpose complex structures. But many years have gone without any development. As a result, this area has been turned into a parking lot. And worse enough, plans were underway to sell it to an investor," President Magufuli remarked.
He added: "This is unfair. Where should these people go? I will make sure that what has happened here will not occur in other areas.
This is why we have decided that these plots and others in 20 regions should be administered by the central government."
Reading a speech on behalf of ex-Magomeni Kota tenants, Reverend John Raymond informed the president that failure by Kinondoni Municipal Council to fulfil their agreement has caused a lot of inconveniences and even deaths to some tenants who could not bear with the situation.
"We agreed to vacate the area since 2012 to allow construction of modern structures but until today, the Kinondoni Municipal Council has done nothing.
As a result, we have been turned into refugees in our own land ... most of us were government employees but we could not manage to build our own houses due to limited income," he noted. Rev Raymond called upon the government to build houses which will be affordable to them to enable each tenant to a new structure.
The Minister for Lands, Housing and Human settlement Development, Mr William Lukuvi, said that he had already fulfilled the government's directives, which required all housing units that were being administered by local government authorities to revert to the central government's jurisdiction.
"We have revoked the ownership of these three plots of Magomeni Kota with 33 hectares and others in 20 regions.
Therefore, they are currently under the central government ... we are ready to fulfil all directives by the president regarding the use of all the plots," Mr Lukuvi pledged.
The government, through the Government Notice Number 323 of August 9, 1991, authorised local government authorities in 20 regions to take over housing units previously under the NHC on grounds of redeveloping the structures.
Meanwhile, President Magufuli has given a seven-day ultimatum to all government institutions and ministries to clear their debts with the NHC before they are evicted.
He said that NHC needs money to implement more projects to curb the shortage of houses in the country and hence would fail to fulfil its mission if it will not collect due rent.
"I commend NHC for its recent move to evict rent defaulters ... this should also apply to all people regardless of their status. Whether a president or minister; evict them from the buildings if they fail to pay rent," Dr Magufuli insisted.