Tanzania: Former TPA Boss Asks Court to Drop Charges Against Him

Former Director General (DG) with Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Ephraim Ngiza Mgawe yesterday asked the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam to acquit him on abuse of position charges he is facing.

The charges relate to expansion of the Dar es Salaam Port, in particular construction of Berths Number 13 and 14 under a contract involving a Chinese firm, China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCCL), which was to cost about 523 million US dollar (about 1bn/-).

According to the prosecution, Mgawe together with his assistant director, Hamadi Koshuma signed a commercial contract between the TPA and the CCCCL for construction of berths number 13 and 14 at the Dar es Salaam Port without invitation of tenders.

Such an act, the prosecution further alleged, was in violation of the provisions of Section 31 of the Public Procurement Act, No. 21 of 2004 and was intended to obtain an undue advantage for the Chinese construction company.

Giving his defence testimony, however, Mgawe told Principal Resident Magistrate Cyprian Mkeha that the contract he had signed had nothing to do with procurement matters, thus, he never violated any Procurement Act, as alleged by the prosecution.

Led by his advocate Frank Mwalongo, the former TPA boss narrated that the Procurement Act governs procurement of goods and services and not commercial contracts as what they had signed with the Chinese company.

Asked as to why they had signed the contract with the China Communications Construction Company Limited, Mgawe told the court that it was the same company which had done the feasibility study for the expansion works and that it was the requirement of the bank that had agreed to finance the project.

He explained further that the contract they had signed had nothing to do with the construction works, because at the time there was no money and, therefore, it could not be possible for them to have such contract in place.

Mgawe further told the court that the contract for the extension works of the port ended at the stage of feasibility study alone and no loan was obtained from China Exim Bank thereafter, as earlier promised for the purposes intended.

Source: Tanzania Daily News.