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Investigate Barrick claims of fuel theft, say Lake Zone residents

The Citizen Correspondent
May 18th, 2011

Mwanza. Some Lake zone residents are still putting pressure on African Barrick Gold after the company announced that fuel theft at its Buzwagi mine had prompted it to cut its gold production forecast.Those who spoke to thispaper maintained that the company’s announcement of late last year that it (the company) had uncovered what it termed as ‘organised and systematic’ fuel theft at the mine, prompting the suspension of some of its workers, may not be true.

Basing on the company’s experience, some residents of Shinyanga called upon responsible authorities to vigorously investigate the matter, alleging that the mining firm might be taking such measures to substantiate that it is not making profits and therefore, it has not yet qualified for corporate tax.According to mining law in Tanzania, corporate tax, is usually levied on the profits, hence no loss making entity can pay the tax.

“There is every reason for us to believe that this giant company is trying to hide something here….if there had been ‘organized and systematic’ fuel thefts at the mine, why have we not been told of anyone being held by the police or being brought to court after being implicated in the fuel theft scandal?” inquired Vincent Shija a resident of Shinyanga.

But in response, the African Barrick Gold Public Relations and Communications manager, Teweli Teweli, told BusinessWeek that the company decided to suspend its workers because that was the only step it could take, leaving other proceedings in the hands of the police force.“That was the only step we could take as employers…the duty of bringing them to justice was for the police force to handle,” he said

He said he was not aware whether or not the police force was still handling the matter.“May be you can check with the Shinyanga RPC (Regional Police Commander) for more details regarding the matter,” he said.In his remarks, Makene Mganga, a resident of Kahama said the issue needed clear investigations for the truth or otherwise of the company’s claims to be known.

He said it was almost impossible for any intruder to go and steal fuel from the heavily guarded mine.“The one who supplies fuel to the mine has got his fuel well within the mine compound and the area is guarded around the clock….there are motorbikes and dogs guarding the area for 24 hours,” said Mganga noting that it was very difficult for someone to steal from such a place.

He said it was astounding to note that the same company said in 2007 that it had lost fuel through theft at its North Mara Mine. In 2009, the same company said fuel had been stolen at its Buzwagi mine. “In 2009, the company said it was strengthening security to prevent a repetition of fuel theft at Buzwagi, how possible is it therefore that in 2010, theft reoccurred at the same mine?” he inquired.

 

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