By Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam - The government reitarated yesterday that the construction of a $4 billion (about Sh8.7 trillion) crude oil pipeline from Lake Albert-Kabaale in Uganda to Tanga port will commence in August as planned.
The ministry of Energy and Minerals yesterday engaged local investors in talks on how to grab the economic advantages that will arise from the project.
Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Energy and Minerals Justin Ntalikwa told journalists after that the government was doing all it could to ensure Tanzanian investors benefit from the project.
About 40 local investors are now participating in the talks facilitated by the ministry on how to grab the opportunities before and after the project.
"We are engaging various local investors to advise them on how they can make use of the opportunities in this project," Mr Ntalikwa said.
The PS said Tanzania is 98percent sure that it is capable of carrying out the project because of its experience in the construction of such pipelinelines and its geographical position which offers a more favourable route from Uganda's oil fields in the Lake Albert basin to the Indian Ocean coast.
In his remarks, the Tanzania Business Council chairman, Mr Gidion Kaunda, said plans were on for them to travel to Uganda to meet President Museveni and assure him that they are well prepared for the project as well explain to him the reasons why the pipeline should go through Tanzania.
The assurance by the ministry comes amid a sour diplomatic relations between Tanzania and Kenya over the preferred route.
Last week, diplomatic relations with Kenya plunged when Tanzanian authorities confiscated the passports of senior Kenya government officials and denied them entry to Tanga, but allowed their Ugandan counterparts to enter after the latter had surprisingly embedded themselves in the Ugandan delegation that was to meet their Tanzanian counterparts.
Initially, Uganda had two options of sending its crude oil to the international market. The available options were constructing a pipeline via Kenya or Tanzania. Uganda had discussions with experts in both Kenya and Tanzania and in fact, UK's Tullow Oil plc which operates in Kenya, had put its weight behind Kenya's Lamu route.
China's Cnooc also supported Kenya's route, but the Tanzania one emerged the better option when Total E&P, which is involved in the country's (Tanzania's) vast natural gas reserves, put a spanner in the works.
President John Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart Museveni blessed the construction of the project during the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit in Arusha recently.
It is estimated that during the construction phase, some 10,000 people, a sizeable number of them being Tanzanians, will get jobs while between 1,000 to 5,000 would be employed later when the project operations starts, according to TPDC projections.
Source: All Africa