TANZANIA – Two high-ranking officials with the Weights and Measures Agency (MWA) have been suspended to pave way for investigation following revelation that oil flow meters at the port of Dar es Salaam remained unused for about five years on the agency’s orders.

The suspended officials are WMA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Magdalena Chuwa (pictured) and the agency’s Port Manager, Bernadina Mwijarubi, who was in charge of WMA activities at Dar es Salaam port.

The move comes in the wake of an impromptu inspection of port activities by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Thursday, who learnt of gross misconduct by the Weights and Measures Agency officials who prohibited the use of flow meters bought by the Tanzania Ports Authority (PTA) to measure the volume of imported fuel for the purpose of appropriate collection of government revenue.   

Speaking at a joint session with Permanent Secretaries in his office in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Prime Minister Majaliwa directed the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Industries and Trade, Dr Adelhelm Meru, to formerly inform the two officials in writing about their suspension.

“The PS will issue letters of suspension to the two officials who will not be allowed to travel outside Dar es Salaam pending determination of their case after in-depth investigation. The PS will appoint other officials to act in the two positions,” Majaliwa explained.  

The Prime Minister’s Office, according to Majaliwa, would write to the police and the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for appropriate intervention, adding that if found in the wrong legal measures would be taken against them but if not they would be reinstated.

During the PM’s impromptu visit to the port on Thursday morning it was discovered that the expensive flow meters bought by the government had been out of order for five years owing to disuse and lack of maintenance. 

Again, it was discovered that the former oil refinery jointly owned by Tanzania and Italy (TIPER), but now being used as an oil storage facility, had illegally connected an underground pipe which siphoned oil directly from the port, thereby denying the government huge sums in lost revenue.

“I have ordered the effective use of oil flow meters instead of the antiquated practice of using sticks, which denied the government colossal amounts of revenue,” Majaliwa explained.

On Thursday, the prime minster visited the Kurasini Oil Jetty (KOJ) facility and discovered that only a few oil dealers frequented the facility while others had access to oil supply in dubious ways. 

Later in the day, the premier visited Kigamboni flow meters facility, only to come across shocking information about the malpractice of flow meter by-pass, coupled with illegal connections.

During interrogation with the  Weights and Measures Agency CEO, the premier discovered that repair of the flow meters started the previous day after the (WMA) officials had learned about the impending visit by the prime minister. 

However, completion of the repair work proved difficult as some of the flow meters, which cost the nation more than Sh12bn, had rusted and could not work anymore.

Majaliwa subsequently demanded written explanation from the WMA chief for her decision to ground the flow meters.

February 13, 2016; http://www.ippmedia.com/?l=88863