Dar es salaam-based Salasala Bioenvironmental Centre (Kibisa) has complained about invasion of its project land by residents, who have reportedly cut-down trees and stole office equipment.
The residents also allegedly burnt books in the centre’s library, causing the loss amounting to 204m/-.
Kibisa coordinator Prof Ramadhan Senzota said in a recent interview that the residents he referred to them as ‘invaders’ have encroached 85 per cent of the project’s 15 hectares at Salasala area on the outskirts of the city.
He blamed the police over failure to act promptly after they were informed about the matter. “This centre is used by science students from different universities, especially the University of Dar es Salaam, by conducting their researches,” said Senzota.
He informed that the project land was his property since 1988. “I have invested for all these years, but suddenly the invaders tried to change my plans over night,” he explained.
Prof Senzota, who lives at the centre, informed that massive encroachment was done between 19.00hrs and 22.00hrs on May 28, this year, which involved around 30 people.
“I was informed about the invasion through phone call from one of the centre’s guards. I immediately rushed to the Kawe Police Post to report the matter,” he noted.
However, police officers on duty that night told him to come back on the followed day to write a statement about the incident. But when he went to the Post next morning, that’s May 29, he didn’t write any statement, and instead he was told to go to the office of the Officer Commanding District (OCD) at Wazo Hill Police Post. Unfortunately, the OCD wasn’t in the office and his mobile phone was apparently not reachable.
According to him, the ‘invaders’ continued with their mission of cutting down trees and clearing the land unabated through the following day.
Prof Senzota, a retired UDSM lecturer, said the bioenvironmental centre was useful, not only to university science students, but also to other members of the general public who visited frequently to obtain natural herbs, such as ‘loranthaceae’.
Kilimahewa local government chairman Abdallah Mbondela confirmed that a group of people armed with traditional weapons invaded the centre on May 28, this year, and the case was reported to the Kawe Police post.
“In the beginning, we thought that this was the issue of land, so we urged the owner to take the issue to the Land Council. But later on, we realised that it was a police case, so we referred it to the police…we have been told that some invaders were arrested,” he noted.
Mbondela informed that his office was aware that Prof Senzota was the legal owner of the project’s land, which he acquired from the local government about four years ago and has never left undeveloped.
This paper contacted Kinondoni Municipal Land Officer, Jacob Ngowi for comments, who declared that Prof. Senzota is the legal owner of the area, although the area is yet to be formalized by the government.
“Even though Prof Senzota’s plot has not legally been identified by the government and issued with the title deed, this doesn’t deny him the right to own it. On top of that, he has deemed right of occupancy and center’s registration documents which are recognised in accordance with the laws and his neighbours are number one witnesses,” he noted.
Kinondoni regional police commander Charles Kenyela said police at Kawe had already arrested 10 people (six women and four men) in connection to the incident, adding that a case has been filled against them in the Kawe Primary Court.