DAR ES SALAAM. — The government of Tanzania admitted on Saturday that a Canadian firm was withholding its Bombardier Q400 aircraft that was expected to be delivered by the manufacturers last month. “The aircraft is indeed being withheld by the Canadian firm, Canadian Sterling Civil Engineering,” said Tanzania Information Services Acting Director General and Government Spokesperson Zamaradi Kawawa.
She was reacting to remarks made by Tundu Lissu, legal adviser of opposition party CHADEMA, who said on Friday that Canadian Sterling Civil Engineering has withheld the aircraft after Tanzanian government failed to pay $48 million to the company. The Singida East Member of Parliament said the Canadian firm won a tender seven years ago to construct the Wazo Hill to Bagamoyo road but the government terminated the deal and refused to compensate the firm.
The firm filed a case at an International Court of Arbitration in Montreal in its native country where the Tanzania government lost the case and in 2010 it was ordered to pay 25 million dollars in compensation with an eight percent interest, said Lissu.
He said the debt was not paid on time hence it increased to 38 million dollars by the end of June this year, which resulted into an order by the Canadian court to attach any government properties that would be found in Canada, France, the Netherlands, Belgium or the United Kingdom.
Kawawa said the move to withhold the purchased aircraft partly arose from actions of a few politicians seeking cheap popularity. “The government has taken initiatives to ensure it settles the situation diplomatically,” she told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
The government was aware of some politicians sabotaging the government to hinder its development agenda, said Kawawa. She said untrustworthy lawyers in the country filed the case about the debt the government owed the foreign firm, thus resulting into withholding of the aircraft. She said such lawyers had no legal mandate to do something of that sort, as “they were lured by conmen and a few politicians who lacked patriotism.”
“We will investigate all those involved in the issue and legal action will be taken against them,” said Kawawa. In his Friday meeting Lissu said that to sort out the matter, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, Augustine Mahiga, traveled to Canada in the past two weeks to negotiate with the construction firm over the plane. — Xinhua