Row simmers over Dar's $0.46m payment to UK firm By Special Correspondent THE EAST AFRICAN A row is brewing over the circumstances under which the Ministry of Infrastructure Development directed the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to pay millions of shillings to a UK-based consultancy firm for services it rendered to third parties. The British firm, DLA Piper, was paid for services it had rendered to the Tanzania Airports Authority, which -although also falling under the ministry - is a totally different entity. DLA Piper was asked to carry out a consultancy at the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) on two worn-out Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) and Single Point Mooring (SPM) systems at the Dar es Salaam port as well as a consultancy on construction works at the Kilimanjaro and Mwanza airports for the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA). TAA and TPA both fall under the Ministry of Infrastructure Development. But it is the TPA that was asked to pay for consultancy services towards not only the revival of the SBM and SPM but also the two airports plus another assignment for the Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company Ltd (Kadco). The EastAfrican has learnt that former infrastructure development minister Andrew Chenge - who was recently forced to resign over alleged improper payment in the Watchman radar scandal - is alleged to have asked the TPA to pay for the services rendered for the two airports and Kadco despite the fact that the cost was to be incurred by the TAA. The Ministry of Infrastructure Development directed the TPA to pay DLA Piper $398,322.60 for the consultancy services, although it had already paid $62,956.62 for the consultancy on the SBM and SPM at Dar port. The TPA management initially paid the $62,956.62 in September last year as consultancy fees for services rendered for airports at Mwanza and Kilimanjaro, and the SPM oil-offloading facility at the port. However, it refused to pay the remainder of the money and instead asked the ministry to explain why it was being made to pay for services that were rendered in connection with the two airports, "which had nothing to do with Tanzania Ports Authority and its activities." TPA Director General Ephraim N. Mgawe, in Memo No 5/2008S addressed to the TPA board of directors, said that the authority received the request from the ministry via letter No CMC 13/141/02/Vol.IX/5 of April 9 to pay the $398,322.60 balance owed to DLA Piper. This firm [DLA Piper] was asked by the ministry to provide consultancy on the way forward as regards policy and other legal matters linked with involving the private sector. Besides, the UK firm was also advising the ministry on projects on expansion and construction of airports together with the SPM project at Dar es Salaam port," said Mr Mgawe. According to the TPA, it was neither involved in negotiating the contract with DLA Piper nor was it party to the agreement signed between the parent ministry and the law firm. "The Tanzania Ports Authority wasn't involved in entering the contract with the UK firm. In addition, the Authority wasn't furnished with procedures that were used to employ the consultant and whether the procurement law (PP Act 2004) was followed," said Mr Mgawe. In view of the fact that the beneficiary of the consultancy was the Tanzania Airports Authority, the TPA advised that the request to pay the consultant be directed to TAA. "We don't have any funds that were set aside for such an undertaking as we have a host of other projects that need our attention," said Mr Mgawe. A breakdown of the payments indicates that there were four bills to be settled for consultancy work on Kilimanjaro Airport, while one was for Mwanza Airport. The total for Kilimanjaro Airport was $320,925.41 and that for Mwanza Airport was $77,397.20. The immediate former permanent secretary at the Infrastructure Ministry, Dr Enos Bukuku, who is now one of the three Deputy Governors of the Bank of Tanzania, wrote to the UK firm saying he had directed the TPA to pay them. "I have asked M/S Tanzania Ports Authority to pay your bills on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development for consultancy work that you have done for the Ministry on Mwanza Airport, SBM, KIA/Kadco and others," said Dr Bukuku in the letter to DLA Piper. Charles Morrison represented DLA Piper, one of the biggest law firms in the UK, in the consultancy. Contacted for comment, the chairman of the TPA board, Raphael Mollel, told The EastAfrican that they had written back to the ministry, indicating that they were not in a position to pay the $398,322.60 that the ministry had asked them to settle. "We told the parent ministry that we couldn't afford to pay the almost Tsh400 million because it wasn't budgeted for and the $62,956.62 we paid was also not our debt," he said. He added that he was not in a position to say whether it was right or wrong for the ministry to instruct TPA to pay for services that were rendered to the Airports Authority. "The two institutions fall under the same ministry and it was the minister's decision to instruct us to pay the debt but, like I said, we weren't in a position to pay," said Mr Mollel. DLA Piper UK has over 2,800 employees and eight offices in major UK commercial centres. In 2006, the firm accepted Ishengoma, Masha, Mujuzi and Magai, Advocates as a member firm in Tanzania of the DLA Piper Group, an alliance of legal practices that includes firms with offices in Australia, Egypt, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and Zambia that are affiliated to the organisation but are not themselves members.