THE government has set aside over 100 hectares of land for investment opportunities on oil and gas in Mtwara Region, the National Assembly was told here on Friday.
Speaking in Parliament on behalf of the Minister of Industry and Trade on Friday, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hussein Bashe, said the government decision also prompted for the implementation of Mtwara Free Port Zone Construction Project that involves the building of a special section with berth and supply section for servicing investors in the oil and gas sector.
He said that the purpose of establishing an investment zone in the free port area of Mtwara is to provide companies engaging in gas and oil exploration activities along the coast of Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique with a base for material supply.
"The 110-hectare investment project area in the Mtwara Free Port Zone is being developed in phases. In the first phase, ten hectares of the area have been developed by 100 percent as planned," said Mr Bashe.
He noted when answering a dicquestion by Anastazia Wambura (Special Seats-CCM) that the implementation of the project involves offsite and onsite infrastructure including tarmac roads, electricity and water supply system.
The deputy minister pointed out that currently investment activities in the area are progressing and three companies are at the site going on with investment activities.
In his question, the MP wanted to know the extent the EPZ area allocated by the Mtwara Regional Ports Authority for investment has been used for the intended activity.
When asking a supplementary question, the lawmaker expressed her concern on the slow pace of investment activities at the allocated area.
She, thus, wanted to know when all 110 hectares would be developed so that more investors could invest and if there was any possibility to subdivide the area for other uses.
Responding, Deputy Minister Bashe said that the government's commitment has not changed.
"Allocating the area for other uses would not be appropriate and if the original objective of allocating the area for oil and gas investment is not be achieved, then the government could review its position," he said.
He said the government still believes that there is a need to preserve the area for further phased expansion due to the current needs. "The idea of redistributing the area for other uses is until now not justifiable and has no place," the deputy minister said.
Regarding the development of the whole area, Mr Bashe explained that there are times when the oil and gas business booms and there are times when it goes down, meaning that the area should be preserved for the intended objective.
"We all know how gas exploration activities in the world have gone down and how the investment in Mozambique has been so delayed.
Therefore, I believe that the needs for having the area for the major investment is still needed in the world," the deputy minister said.
Therefore, he said, they would expand the use of the area as demand arises. He invited investors to the ministry, if there was any who was ready, to discuss how to expand the area in question.