Plans to build a new economic zone around Kilimanjaro International Airport have run into controversy as more than 10,000 locals have vowed to stay put until they are compensated.
The residents of KIA Estate said plans to compensate only 429 families with Tsh400 million ($180,000) would see many other residents displaced without alternate means of earning a livelihood, as this amount is not commensurate with the value of the investments they have made in the area.
“We are not opposed to the airport project, but we were not involved in the evaluation in 2002 when agreements were concluded with executive officers of our wards,” the KIA ward councillor, Yohana Laizer, said during public hearings on the project.
The hearings were organised by the Tanzania Human Rights and Good Governance Commission.
The residents said they will seek legal redress if the dispute is not resolved to their satisfaction. The row arises from a dispute over the list of those lined up for compensation which was drawn up in 2002, recognising only the 429 families.
Since 2002, the population on the 23-hectare KIA Estate has grown as a result of births and migration. However, the government insists that only those on the 2002 list will be considered.
“Compensation will be made only to those who were involved in an evaluation that was conducted in 2002,” said Transport and Communication Deputy Minister Atashasta Nditiye during a meeting with the Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (Kadco) which manages the airport.
Mr Nditiye accused the newcomers of encroaching on the area after the evaluation in order to claim compensation.
Once the evictions are completed, the estate will accommodate a duty-free shopping centre, an export processing zone, golf courses, learning institutions, Customs warehouses and a wildlife ranch.
More international flights
The Tanzania government hopes the portside city will attract more international flights, visitors to the Northern Circuit and cargo freighters to carry flowers and vegetable exports.
International airlines currently landing at KIA include Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Condor German Airlines. The airport recently received a boost from Ethiopian Airlines which said it would start direct flights to KIA.
“The idea is to attract investors to put up various facilities to make KIA Estate a business city and hub for growth in the region,” said Kadco technical director Christopher Mkoma.
KIA Estate is strategically located between the three Northern Corridor regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Manyara. Its upgrade would also breathe life into Arusha and Moshi towns, which have suffered from the closure of state-owned factories.
Mr Laizer said the residents were waiting for a response to their grievances, which were submitted to former Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda and incumbent premier Kassim Majaliwa