TANROADS ROW... Top ministry officials in 'kickbacks' scandal
By ThisDay Reporter
15th June 2010

AS the Ministry of Infrastructure Development is accused of failure to take action against the CEO of the Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) for his insubordinate behaviour, it has now come to light that some top officials in the parent ministry received “kickbacks” disguised as honoraria, from the government agency.

The honoraria, authorized by the TANROADS CEO, Ephraim Mrema, in December 2008, was paid to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Omar Chambo and the then acting Director of Administration and Personnel in the ministry, J.M.E. Mwakitosi, among other top officials.

According to an internal memorandum seen by THISDAY, the honoraria was paid to the two officials and four others for their role in “convincing” the Public Services Management to approve salary increments for TANROADS staff.

“It is recommended that the following people be considered for honoraria for their outstanding contribution towards the success of salary increase exercise. The recommended rates of honoraria are shown against their names,” reads in part the memo from the acting head of the human resources department at TANROADS.

Whereas Chambo received 10m/-, Mwakitosi was paid 6m/-. Other beneficiaries were Loyce Lugoye, Agnes Meena, N. J. Kipanda and Peter Mhimba, who received 6m/- each.

The revelation comes at a time when the Vice-Chairman of TANROADS' board of directors, Dr Samuel Nyantahe, has officially called upon Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, to take urgent administrative measures against Mrema.
In the April 12, 2010 letter, Nyantahe explained to the Premier how Mrema instituted unilateral staff changes at TANROADS without following proper authorising channels.

"The current situation was precipitated by... his (Mrema's) reluctance to rescind the (staff) changes as subsequently instructed by both the parent ministry and the board of directors," he stated.

Mrema had controversially claimed that his insubordination towards senior officials in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and TANROADS' board of directors was sanctioned by President Jakaya Kikwete. However, it has been established that there was no presidential seal of approval in favour of Mrema's actions.

It has also been alleged that the TANROADS chief has been overseeing the systematic intimidation of certain employees of the agency through internal transfers and termination of employment.

Nyantahe further informed Pinda that there have been numerous staff complaints against the "deteriorating working climate at the agency, drastic fall in productivity and failure of effective action by the parent ministry."
"How can a public service official (Mrema) exhibit blatant insubordination behaviour and get away with it?" asked the vice-chairman of TANROADS' board in the letter to the PM.

The TANROADS' board of directors noted that the Ministry of Infrastructure Development appears to be somehow unable to take any action against Mrema despite his open insubordination.

“It is frustrating when the parent ministry, despite numerous notifications verbally and in writing, has failed to resolve even the most straight forward issues,” the vice-chairman of the board told the PM.

“From the various correspondence and verbal expressions by those at the agency (TANROADS), the situation, internally, is very delicate and potentially explosive. This is even before consideration is taken on pending litigations by contractors claiming billions of shillings,” he warned.

Government officials expressed concern that the row at TANROADS was undermining the work of the agency in managing a network of around 30,000 kilometres of trunk and regional roads in mainland Tanzania.

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