In one of the biggest pushbacks against Chinese president Xi Jinping’s Belt Road Initiative Tanzania has suspended the construction of the $10bn Bagamoyo port project, citing the onerous financial conditions put in place by Beijing.
The project, which broke ground four years ago and was set to be run by China Merchants Holding International, would have been the largest port in East Africa.
Tanzania’s president John Magufuli has accused the Chinese project backers of presenting “exploitative and awkward” terms in exchange for financing. Chinese financiers set “tough conditions that can only be accepted by mad people,” Magufuli told local media.
“They told us once they build the port, there should be no other port to be built all the way from Tanga to Mtwara south,” Magufuli told a delegation of business people at State House in Dar es Salaam earlier this month.
“They want us to give them a guarantee of 33 years and a lease of 99 years, and we should not question whoever comes to invest there once the port is operational. They want to take the land as their own but we have to compensate them for drilling construction of that port,” he said.
Magufuli also said the new Bagamoyo port risked undermining the ongoing $522m expansion of Dar es Salaam port that would enable it to triple its current capacity when complete by the end of this year.