Nyerere's ghost haunt dubious deals in Arusha

Mr Mbunda together with two other senior public officials were whisked before the Resident Magistrate Court here where the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) had filed a case against them for reportedly abuse of office and unlawfully giving tenders to a private firm.

The case also tied the former Acting Municipal Council's Accountant, Mr Christopher Mbalakai, the Ex-Municipal Attorney Mr Paul Mugasha and one Mr Nestori Ng'oboko, the latter being the Director of a private firm M/S Luneco Investment Company Limited (LICL).

Now the officials are being accused of awarding the firm the tender to rehabilitate a public Municipal Car Parking yard and the open-air gardens in Kijenge area.The case was presented before Resident Magistrate Gantwa Mwanguga, by the PCCB Lawyer Mr Hangi Chang'a who stated that between 2008 and 2010 the accused awarded a tender to the private firm LICL to renovate the municipal parking yard and garden without publicly announcing the tender as stipulated in the governing laws.

According to the PCCB the former Municipal officials here had jointly and clandestinely dished out the tender valued at nearly 50m/- to the aforementioned firm which also failed to deliver.Advocate Chang'a told the court that the officials, in addition to going against tender issuing regulations they also failed to supervise the works, reportedly done below standards and which resulted into shoddy outputs causing the government to incur a loss of 25.5million/-.

The said gardens of Kijenge were named 'Nyerere gardens' and initial plans were to convert the open space adjacent to the Impala Hotel's roundabout junction into a lush green public space, complete with a memorial museum in honour of Tanzania's founding president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

At the moment the 'gardens' remain just a grass patch, with an adjacent water fountain (maintained by TBL) and without the proposed museum, with the budgeted money going down the drain, apparently Nyerere must be turning in his grave.Historically it was actually the late Mwalimu Nyerere who saved the open space from being sold off to some investors who planned to set up a gas station in the area.

In the late 1990s Nyerere had taken up the role as the chief mediator for the Burundi 'Peace talks,' a task which brought him to Arusha where the whole proceedings were taking place.It happened that one day as the Father of the Nation was driving along the former Old Moshi Road, he came across the construction works at the site and stopped to find out what was taking place there.

When the outspoken Mwalimu learned what developments were all about, he ordered the project to be halted, warning the then municipal fathers to stop playing with open public spaces.After the incident the area remained vacant and it is not known what
happened to the hundreds of millions that the 'Petrol Station' investor reportedly paid to the council in order to acquire the area.

Anyway the project was shelved and the town road project that followed in 1999 saw the circumference of the adjacent Kijenge roundabout increase two-folds and this created another problem.The Tanzania Breweries Limited which runs a brewery plant nearby decided to take the responsibility of maintaining the new roundabout by planting grass, flowers and setting up a water geyser at the middle.

Seeing it was attracting attention, the TBL designers decided to add another specimen at the junction; overnight a giant beer bottle statue was erected complete with a 'Kilimanjaro,' label.Emptying more than 600,000 crates of beer every month, Arusha residents have no problem with the frothy liquids, but somehow advertising this fact to the entire world via a giant beer bottle just didn't seem to augur well with the townsfolk who screamed banshee in protest.

The uproar over the 'beer bottle' controversy eventually forced the guys who installed the brown colored statue to remove it, leaving, however, the partially working water geyser.The Kijenge Roundabout was also the starting point of what used to be known as 'Nyerere Road,' linking the junction from Impala all the way to the 'Philips' area where it connects to the main Arusha-Moshi highway.

But in 2004 the council decided to rename the corridor, 'Simeon Road,'snubbing the late Mwalimu as if in retaliation after the latter nipped from the bud their land-grabbing plans to drown the open public gardens into an oil spill.The former Simeon Road (named after the Pre-Colonial Chief of the Wa-Arusha tribe) which used to run between the Regional Commissioner's Block via the Arusha International Conference Centre to Sanawari Junction had just been renamed "Barabara ya Afrika Mashariki!" or 'EAC Road!'

A few more complaints and the council decided to grant Mwalimu another road and that was after more than five years. The former 'Old-Moshi' road,running between 'Clock Tower' area and the Kijenge roundabout was eventually renamed 'Nyerere Road!' But just last month the 'Daily News' pointed out that the digital 'Google Maps,' had mislabelled the 'Nyerere Road,' which now reads as "Nelson Mandela Road."

Later the council officially stated that they had decided to change 'Nyerere Road,' into "Nelson Mandela Road," without any explanation why the father of the nation was once more being wiped out of the local landmarks.And when last week the PCCB unveiled some dubious deals surrounding the proposed "Nyerere gardens,' it again proved that the council may be trying hard to bury the memory of the father of the nation, but the ghost of Africa's most popular statesman will continue to haunt any shoddy deal here.

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