Tanzanian court dismisses case against gas pipeline construction

Feb 18, 1997 01:00 AM

Feb. 8, 1997 A High Court judge in Tanzania has dismissed a case which sought to halt construction of a $ 250 million natural gas pipeline financed by the World Bank and two Canadian companies. Judge Dan Mapigano acted when residents of the area south of Dar es Salaam sought to amend the suit and make the state-owned Tanzania Petroleum Corporation the first respondent instead of the bank and the Canadian firms TransCanada and Ocelot. The residents' move would have made the state-owned company the prime defendant, creating a wider legal net. The 300-kilometre (190-mile) pipeline is to transport gas from Songosongo near Kilwa on the Indian Ocean coast to a power plant in Dar es Salaam, increasing electricity supply. The plaintiffs, representing a citizen's group called the Southern Regions Development Association, had argued that, since the region had long been ignored in national development plans, exploiting its natural gas reserves was unreasonable and against public interest. Nationally, the case was not popular. Some commentators argued that halting the project would hurt the entire nation. The World Bank is providing a loan of $ 200 mm and the Canadian companies are to raise the remaining $ 50 mm.

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