DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania's President John Magufuli has urged the French oil and gas conglomerate, Total, the lead contractor in the development of the 1,444-kilometres Uganda-Tanzania crude oil pipeline project from Hoima to Tanga to work with local contractors and manpower in all the 24 districts of Tanzania the project will run through to reach the Indian Ocean dee-water port of Tanga.

Tanzania has adequate as well as experienced contractors and engineers who you can work with on the project, President Magufuli said when he met a delegation of executives from the French company at State House Dar-es-Salaam on Tuesday.

The President also urged the company to fast-tracked the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) whose execution is slated to begin next month with the aim of completing it earlier than the 2020 deadline set for its completion for the benefit of the people of Tanzania and Uganda.

We are highly positive that the project will be completed before the time limit; apart from export markets, the East African region alone has a population of about 165 million people who will provide a reliable market for the product. The government of Tanzania assures maximum co-operation to Total and other partners in execution and operating the pipeline, provided you pay requisite taxes and abide by the laws of our country, President Magufuli told the delegation.

The high-level delegation of the multinational company included Total's President for Marketing and Services, who is also a member of the company's Executive Committee, Momar Nguer, the President of Total Africa, Stanislaus Mittelman, Total's Vice-President for East and Central Africa, Jean Christian Bergeron, and the Managing Director of Total Tanzania, Tarik Moufaddal.

Minister for Energy Dr Medard Kalemani and Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment Charles Mwijage said the delegation had come to Tanzania to assess preparations for execution of the project. They said that Total wanted to boost its oil marketing business in Tanzania and was working with the government to conduct oil exploration on Lake Tanganyika, Lake Eyasi Wembere and Lake Rukwa.

Nguer thanked President Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni for the thrust they put behind the pipeline project, pledging that the company was working to finalize a few issues before the venture kicks off.

He hailed President Magufuli for his crackdown on corruption which put the country as a favourable destination for business and investment. Total was ready to work with the government of Tanzania in exploration of oil, he added.

Uganda and Tanzania have entered into an agreement for the proposed US 3.55 billion US dollars crude oil export pipeline which runs from landlocked Uganda's southwestern region, where crude oil was discovered in 2006, to Tanzania's seaport of Tanga.