Prime state property sold in dubious deal -Transaction involving private developer said to have ruffled feathers within government THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam A PRIME government property located within Dar es Salaams central business district has been sold under dubious circumstances to a private developer ostensibly to pave way for a $12m (approx. 15.6bn/-) construction project, THISDAY has learnt. Well-placed sources say the manner in which the undeveloped property located on plot number 162/38 at the corner of Mirambo Street/Samora Avenue was sold in May this year through the Presidential Parastatal Sector Reform Commission (PSRC) has now become a controversial issue within the corridors of government itself. The plot, formerly owned by the National Food and Agriculture Corporation (NAFCO), is currently being used basically as a parking lot in the CBD. However, senior government officials have in recent weeks begun voicing rumblings of discontent over the sale deal granted a local private developer firm, El-Hillal Minerals (Tanzania) Limited. Investigations by THISDAY have revealed the existence of several public officials who were from the outset opposed to the deal involving one of the choicest pieces of land in downtown Dar es Salaam. The objections were based on the argument that the plot would be put to better use for the construction elf to build a new multi-storeyed office accommodation facility for government ministries and departments. The thinking in government is that to let this prime state property go while many government ministries, departments and agencies continue to operate from private rented properties, amounts to an act of folly, said a government official familiar with the issue. The official added: It not only adds more financial burden on the government as a whole, but also compromises the integrity and operations of some sensitive state organs. Other government insiders refer to prevailing clear instructions that priority should be given to government needs whenever any state-owned property in the city centre becomes available for new uses. They pointed out that the latest deal between the government and El-Hillal Minerals (Tanzania) Limited would mean that several key government ministries and departments now without permanent offices will have to continue operating outside the official administrative zone. It is understood that El-Hillal Minerals intends to build up to 12 floors of office accommodation on the disputed plot at an estimated cost of $12m (approx. 15.6bn/-). Under the terms of the sale contract, the private developer has agreed to allocate one floor of office space covering at least 1,300 square metres to the government free of charge, for the initial five years upon completion of the project. El-Hillal Minerals, said to have been chasing the property since 2001, is understood to be planning an international diamond auction centre to be housed within the proposed new building. The company has also pledged to house a first-class commercial bank within the same building. Our sources say ownership of the property was formally transferred to the Ministry of Finance after the privatisation of NAFCO, and the latest sale transaction was carried out through the PSRC.