Magufuli Orders Seizure of Foreign Workers' Passports

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has ordered the seizure of passports belonging to foreign employees of an Indian infrastructure company managing a water project.

The president who is nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for pushing through his policies, ordered that the foreign employees’ passport be seized for failing to meet up with the time given to the company to finish up its water project.

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By this, the office of the presidency meant that the passport and travel documents of Rajendra Kumar and his assistance will be withheld until they complete the water project.

“The president … has ordered that the passport of … Rajendra Kumar, should be seized along with the travel documents of his assistants until they complete the water project,” Magufuli’s office said in a statement.

The $13 million water project in the southern town of Lindi was expected to be finished in March 2015 but remains incomplete till date, says the president’s office who described Kumar as the representative of Overseas Infrastructure Alliance (India) Private Limited.

“Magufuli has warned that if the project is not completed within four months, he will take more stringent measures against those supervising the construction work,” the statement said.

While the Delhi-based infrastructure company was not immediately available for comment on the matter, the presidency noted that Magufuli, a former public works minister, was angered by lack of progress on the project, which he visited on Friday.

Magufuli has been largely commended for his anti-corruption drive and cutting down on wasteful government spending since he came to power in November 2015.

However, opposition parties, accuse him of becoming an authoritarian, undermining democracy by curbing political activity and cracking down on dissent.

Some foreign investors have also expressed concern about what they described as unpredictable government policies and actions that in most cases have been unfriendly to some big mining companies.

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Like other African nations, Tanzania is on the move to add value to its exports rather than send raw materials abroad. The new government under President John Magufuli banned imports of coal and gypsum in November to boost its mining sector, saying it had abundant reserves of the minerals.