The government yesterday issued a new map of Tanzania that, among other features, shows the disputed boundary between Tanzania and Malawi to be in the middle of Lake Nyasa.The new map also shows boundaries of the new four regions and 19 districts created last year.
According to the director of survey and mapping in the ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlement Development, Dr Selasie Mayunga, the new map clears the “confusion” regarding the Tanzania-Malawi border on Lake Nyasa.
“In the new map, the boundary between Tanzania and Malawi is in the middle of lake Nyasa as it is shown in the old map,” said Dr Mayunga. He urged institutions and individuals to contact the ministry for copies of the new map.Last year, the government announced four new regions, namely Njombe, Geita, Simiyu and Katavi as well as 19 new districts.
The production of the new map comes at a time when Tanzania and its southern neighbour Malawi are exploring ways to end a border crisis after briefly putting aside the diplomatic option, with some Tanzanian officials declaring the country was ready to respond to any act of provocation.
Malawi claims it owns the whole of lake Nyasa on the basis of a 1890 treaty between former colonial powers Britain and Germany, which, it says, was later reaffirmed by then Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) when the country gained its independence in the early 1960s.
But President Jakaya Kikwete said earlier this month that the Anglo-Germany Treaty that gave Malawi sole ownership of the whole lake was flawed and Tanzania has every reason to demand a review.Yesterday, Dr Mayunga said the new map would also help in ending escalating land conflicts and the growing problem of poor land use that has put urban authorities in difficulties.
“We are currently facing a lot of land-use related problems in the country … like the issue of boundaries and construction in prohibited areas. We are optimistic that this new map will help in putting in check such problems”, he said, citing the Kinondoni municipality as topping the list in areas with enormous land conflicts and poor planning.
The ministry said yesterday it was hunting down, in collaboration with the police, people who have published Tanzania maps contrary to laws and regulations, adding that culprits would be taken to task.According to Dr Mayunga, it was only the lands ministry that has the legal authority to publish and distribute the map of Tanzania.
“Let it be known that those maps are fake and nobody should be using them. The law will be used against anyone publishing or distributing the unofficial map,” said Mr Mayunga.He said the ministries in collaboration with the police are currently focusing in removing the maps in circulation.
The most saddening thing about the practice, said Mr Mayunga, was the fact that public and private institutions countrywide were using the fake maps, unaware that it was illegal.
“A legally correct map is only the one published and issued by the ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlement Development,” he asserted.
According to Mayunga, most of the land conflicts are caused by dubious land surveyors who have been operating without adhering to the law. “We now caution cartographers to do their work according to laid-down laws and ethics; anyone doing anything contrary to that will face the music,” he said.
The land ministry also announced yesterday it was planning to upgrade slums by improving social services and discourage the creation of new squatters.