Magufuli suspends Bagamoyo Port construction, says conditions set by investor amount to selling Tanzania to China

DAR ES SALAAM –  Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, the Tanzanian President has indefinitely suspended plans to construct what would have been East Africa’s largest port in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, after disagreeing with Chinese investors on the terms of the highly ambitious infrastructure project.

Preliminary works for the $10 billion Bagamoyo Port at Mbegani creek in Bagamoyo, 75 km north of Dar es Salaam, were launched in October 2015 by his predecessor Jakaya Kikwete.

However, when President Magufuli came into office in November 2015, the project took a back seat as the government prioritised expansion of Dar es Salaam, Tanga, and Mtwara ports.

According to local media, Mr Magufuli also sought to renegotiate Bagamoyo Port project’s terms with the investor.

But after years of fruitless talks, President Magufuli has finally declined to move ahead with the mega project saying the conditions set by the investor amount to selling Tanzania to China.

“Those investors are coming with tough conditions that can only be accepted by mad people. They told us once they build the port, there should be no other port to be built all the way from Tanga to Mtwara south,” Mr Magufuli said on Friday during a meeting with local entrepreneurs.

“They want us to give them a guarantee of 33 years and a lease of 99 years, and we should not question whoever comes to invest there once the port is operational. They want to take the land as their own but we have to compensate them for drilling construction of that port,” he said, adding that the investor barred the State from collecting revenue from port.

The fallout shines a spotlight on the growing criticism of Chinese investors’ operations in Africa.

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