Lawyers poke holes on draft natural gas policy

A team of lawyers -- who have teamed to provide legal education related to national oil and gas resources -- was pointed at shortcomings in the draft natural gas policy.

According to the lawyers, a key shortcoming is neglect of the interests of grassroots communities. In a statement the lawyers sent to The Citizen, they raised alarm that the draft policy has sidelined the interests of communities surrounding the areas lined up for natural gas discoveries and exploration activities.

The other issues the lawyers identified are limited time for stakeholders in the rural areas, especially those living near the gas fields, to acquire education on upstream and downstream activities.

Energy and Minerals commissioner Ally Samaje, said recently that the government targets to have the policy in place by next February.An activist, who is also an advocate with Queens Attorneys law firm, Ms Consolate Masaro, yesterday said they recently carried out a survey in the communities close to gas fields only to find out that the people were ignorant of a number of key issues related to oil and gas.

“We call for quick measures to be taken to educate the citizens on legal issues related to oil and gas activities in the country,” said Ms Masaro.

“It is high time we Tanzanians and other stakeholders realised that there is a dire need to develop and create forums that shall provide legal education on natural gas and oil. Even some investors are ignorant of that aspect,” she said.

According to her, the team carried out the survey in Mafia, Mtwara, Lindi, Mnazi bay and Mkuranga.The upstream and downstream activities include exploration, production and development of infrastructure like roads, telecommunication networks, water supply systems, gas pipelines, electric power plants, chemical industries and other industries related to oil and gas production.

“Leaders should encourage and support individuals and civil society organisations which engage in educating the people,” she said.

Another lawyer, Mr Denis Maringo, shares similar views calling for increased pace of public awareness programmes so as to come up with sound natural gas policy and its subsequent law.

Speaking on behalf of at least 40 civil society organisations (CSOs) constituting the Oil, Natural Gas and Environmental Alliance (Ongea), Mr Maringo -- who is the director of the alliance -- said that efforts geared to thwart campaigns for increased awareness on oil and gas activities must be condemned. 
Source: The Citizen,http://www.thecitizen.co.tz, reported by Ludger Kasumuni in Dar es Salaam

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