CONSTRUCTION of the 2,600-kilometre Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is among the country’s mega projects, with immense employment prospects. The ambitious project, which has so far employed 800 people, mostly Tanzanians, is expected to create 600,000 direct jobs upon completion.
And, besides the direct job opportunities, like all construction projects, the 16trn/- SGR venture will hopefully spark creation of other millions of jobs. Tanzanians are indeed eagerly waiting for the employment opportunities to unfold.
But, appalling is the recent revelation that some crooks, camouflaging as project foremen or supervisors, have started trading the available jobs, which ideally, belong to us all. The government is spending taxpayers’ money to execute the grand railway project, which should therefore benefit all citizens, irrespective of their gender, economic, social or religious inclination.
Nobody should have bigger claim on the project than others. All should share fairly and justly all the social, economic and even cultural benefits, if any, accrued from the project. Tanzanians, particularly sons and daughters of the rural based peasants, are looking forward for well guided recruitment based on merit and fair competition among competent and highly qualified job seekers.
The jobs should never be for sale. True, the project’s 600,000 job slots cannot satisfy all the 50 million plus Tanzanians. And, given the unemployment rate in the country, the opportunities will definitely be fiercely competed for.
Yet, that is no excuse to sell the slots. Bribing for a job is a crime but too the risk of hiring incompetent people and ultimately compromising the project is exacerbated if corruption is embraced in the recruitment process.
Reli Assets Holding Company (RAHCO) acting Managing Director Masanja Kadogosa was quoted yesterday as saying: “RAHCO has information about some workers taking bribes in exchange for work.
We have already suspended and arrested some of the suspects and investigation is on progress.” Our firm belief is that all the corrupt elements will be flushed out of the project before doing any harm to the project.
Corruption and theft of construction materials from the project sites are among the most serious problems haunting the construction sector in the country. The amount of money that the government is committing to the SGR project is too colossal to play with.