Sasumua Holdings defends ownership of Handeni land

Handeni. An investor planning to set up a juice factory in Handeni District, Tanga Region has defended land it acquired for the purpose.

The company behind the project, Sasumua Holdings Limited, denied that it had illegally taken over land owned by Kwamsisi locals.

Mr Emmanuel Baganywa, the farm manager, said 21 percent of 6,174 hectares of land it acquired has already been planted with bananas and pineapples.

“We have acquired the said land legally and we have documents to support our ownership,” he stressed when reached for comment on the matter. Mr Baganywa defended the company for delayed production of juice, saying it was due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. The fruit canning and juice bottling factory was to process and pack pineapples and bananas for local consumption and for export.

The crops will be grown at Kwamsisi, off the Mkata road junction, whose soil is fertile enough for the cultivation of a range of fruits. He added that they have a green light from the government as well as the local authorities to embark on commercial cultivation of fruits in the area.

However, delayed implementation of the project has led to concerns from the Handeni District officials and the villagers in equal measure.

The acting district land officer Erasto Mligo was recently quoted saying that there was no development on the farm after it was planted.

“The banana trees and pineapple cultivars planted have gone to waste. This is against the conditions when land was availed to the investor,” he said.

The district CCM chairman Athumani Malunda said the dispute over the land ownership in the area should be resolved sooner than later.

Alternatively, he argued that ownership of the contested land should revert back to landless people in the vicinity.

Other villagers, who spoke to our sister newspaper, Mwananchi, said the investment project should be reviewed.

Should the project go ahead, at least 800 households will have to be relocated from the earmarked site for the proposed factory.

The Handeni District Commissioner Ms Siriel Mchembe has promised to meet all the parties in the dispute in order to find a lasting solution.

This was to be one of the largest fruit canning factories in Tanga region, employing hundreds of permanent workers and casual labourers.