The three-letter word “owe” sometimes creates confusion among writers. Take the case of its use in a news item titled: “Government gives PS one month to pay water project coordinator”, appearing on page 7 of the Custodian (9 July), in which the Deputy Water Minister, on an inspection tour of big water projects in Makongolosi, Chunya District, is quoted as saying: “the project will cost 2.8bn/- till completion, and so far the contractor ‘owes’ the government 270m/-.”
It is very unusual that a contractor implementing a public project will “owe” the government money. The contractor himself offers a clarification when he is quoted as: “thanking the government for pledging to pay him 270m/-, and promised the project will be ‘the’ one to be emulated in the country”.
You see the contradiction? The contractor “owes” the government 270m/- but the same goes ahead and thanks the government for pledging to pay him 270m/-. So, who owes who? If you “owe”, you are supposed to pay.
If you have a claim and must be paid, you are “owed”. In this case, the Water Deputy Minister is requiring her PS to pay the contractor within one month.
So, it is the contractor who is owed by the government, not the other way round. The sentence should therefore read: “so far, the government owes the contractor, 270m/-”.
On page 7 of the same paper, we find an item titled: “Officers found double-allocating land plots will be dealt with, Lukuvi warns”. The Minister for Lands further: “wanted land experts to continue educating the public in ‘town’ and cities to build in designated areas and surveyed plots which include obtaining a building permit before embarking ‘in’ construction”. Clearly, the Hon Minister was talking about “urban areas”: “towns, municipalities and cities”.
He also requires us to obtain a building permit before embarking “on” (not “in”) construction. The Minister is also reported to have praised the National Housing Corporation (NHC)’s creativity in constructing houses for both “ale” and renting in Iyumbu and Chamwino, Dodoma Region.
Constructing houses “for ale” sounds funny because “ale” is a drink: “a type of beer brewed using a warm fermentation method, resulting in a sweet, full-bodied and fruity taste”.
So, is NHC being praised for constructing “house for ‘ale’”? Drink houses? Clearly not. An “s” is missing from the word “ale”. It should be “sale”. The NHC, faithful to its mandate, is building houses for “sale and renting”.
Meanwhile, the National Development Corporation (NDC) is reported to have done something special: “NDC launches special tractor trailer to reduce agro-inputs transportation costs”, runs the headline on page 6 of the Custodian. The launch was graced by the Minister for Industry and Trade, who is reported to have said the following: “May I ‘recommend’ the NDC management for the new innovative idea of manufacturing local tractor trailers”.
This sentence does not tell us what the Minister recommended. In any case, it looks like he is congratulating the NDC, for a job well-done. He therefore, did not “recommend”, but “‘commended’ the NDC management for this innovative idea of manufacturing local trailers”.
Finally, we go to Songea, and are left puzzled as to whether the words “zoo”, “game reserve”, “conservancy”, “park”, can be used interchangeably: “TAWA to boost number of wildlife in Ruhila ‘Zoo’ to hook more tourists”, runs the headline, on page 6.
In the first paragraph, the writer puts meat to the headline: “The Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) plans to increase the number of animals in the Ruhila ‘Game Reserve’ located 8 km from Songea Municipality in a new drive to attract and increase the number of tourists visiting the ‘conservancy’. Animals that will be added to the ‘zoo’ are giraffes and zebra. The number of people visiting the ‘park’ is between 30 and 40 per month ……..”.
In a zoo, wild animals are kept in cages and are fed, for the public to view. A game reserve is a large protected area dedicated to wild animals.
I’m off to Ruhila!