The mystery ATC mansion By ThisDay Reporter 20th April 2010 ATC Property CONSTRUCTION of a luxury multi-million dollar house in one of Dar es Salaam's super prime locations linked to a cash-strapped public corporation is shrouded in an air of mystery that has raised questions about the identity of the actual owner of the property. The imposing ATC project along Toure Drive in Dar es Salaam's posh Oysterbay location is arguably one of the city's most expensive new-build residential properties. Yet, new questions are being raised about who actually owns the property and how a financially-troubled parastatal, Air Tanzania Company Limited, could be linked to such a grandiose project. A construction board in front of the building names the project developer simply as ATC of P.O.Box 7867, Dar es Salaam. According to available public records, the postal address in question is associated with a Dar es Salaam-based accountant identified as John K. Kato. The same address is similarly linked to a building contractor, Mwisi Construction Company, which was recently deleted by the Contractor's Registration Board (CRB) for various irregularities. Well-placed sources told THISDAY that the choice piece of land where the ATC mansion is being built was formerly owned by the state-run ATC Limited. "The ATC land in O'bay was either cheaply sold off or given virtually free-of-charge to a controversial Member of Parliament under highly dubious circumstances," said a government official familiar with the property's murky history. "The land is on a location that real estate agents call super-prime property. It is somewhat unclear how ATC transferred ownership of this property to this politician." ATC Ltd was incorporated following the enactment of the Air Tanzania Corporation (Re-organisation and Vesting of Assets and Liabilities) Act of 2002. The legislation also established the Air Tanzania Holding Corporation (ATHCO) to take over the assets of the national flag carrier prior to its privatisation. The ATC holdings company (ATHCO) was also authorised by the government to dispose of property that formerly belonged to the national airline. This included the sale of residential houses and other buildings that were once owned by ATC. Officials from ATC Ltd and ATHCO were not immediately available to explain whether or not the government still owns the ATC property along Toure Drive. It also remains unclear exactly who bought the government property and at what price tag. "What I understand is that no public tenders were floated by the government for the sale of this property. The nation would have been able to earn millions of dollars if the sale of the property followed a transparent and competitive bidding process," said another well-placed official. INTERESTING NEIGHBOURS The ATC mansion is wedged between the sprawling Shivacom Group property owned by controversial business tycoon Tanil Somaiya and the official residence of the US Ambassador to Tanzania, Alfonso Lenhardt. Somaiya is among at least four high-profile individuals who have been under investigation for their alleged involvement in the military radar corruption scandal. He denies any wrongdoing. "The US Ambassador is the next-door neighbour of the ATC property. This is an extraordinary statement of personal wealth by a politician in a country where the overwhelming majority of the estimated 40 million people live in conditions of abject poverty," said one government official. "I am sure that every time the American ambassador looks across to the house next door, he will never cease to wonder how Tanzanian politicians can be so extravagantly rich in the midst of persistent national poverty." Government officials revealed to THISDAY that the ATC property, which is now in the finishing stages, will likely be rented out to a European country that recently opened its embassy in Tanzania. "We understand that the Turkish embassy will rent the ATC property very soon this year once it is completed," said an official close to the government.