analysisBy Marc Nkwame
WITHIN last year alone more than 1.5 million people passed through its gates.
The Loduare, which is an entrance point to the country's most famous tourist destinations is more than just a northern portal to both the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and the Serengeti National Park.
When the NCAA established its digital card payment system, the Loduare gate became one of the major points of sales, but the entry point is in itself a tourist attraction where baboons, monkeys, gazelles and occasionally elephants and buffaloes can be spotted even before entering that park.
When the government of Japan recently moved in to hand over state-of-the-art audio visual equipment valued at 838 million/- to be used at the Tourist Information Centre at the Loduare gate, it further reinforced the importance of this passage point. Loduare gate may be manned by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority but it caters for visitors and tourists heading to Serengeti National Park, travellers destined for Musoma from Arusha as well as those going to Loliondo (game Controlled Area).
In addition to be the gateway to the world famous crater which attracts nearly 500,000 visitors every year, Loduare is also the entry to Olduvai Gorge, the historical place believed to be where the first human being once lived. The NCAA is also among the World's heritage sites, something which the Japanese respect very much to an extent of ensuring that the area is well supported to maintain such status, this is according to the country's ambassador here Mr Masaki Okada.
Possibly the most advanced gate in the country the Loduare was constructed by the Mitsubishi Group of Japan which manufactures, among other types of heavy commercial machinery, the Fuso trucks, Pajero SUVs and Rosa buses. It was completed in 2009 and handed over to the NCAA with the Japanese Government promising to equip the gate, which also serves as Information Centre and Archive vault for the local tourism sites.
Last week the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mrs Maimuna Tarishi officially received the equipment from the Ambassador of Japan in Tanzania Mr Okada and lauded the People of Japan for their tireless efforts in aiding tourism industry in Tanzania. Mrs Tarishi pointed out that; "It was also the government of Japan which constructed the 77 kilometre highway linking the Makuyuni Junction (along the main Arusha-Dodoma road) to the Loduare Gate, a road which was inaugurated in 2004," pointed out Mrs Tarishi.
The Loduare Gate building which was constructed at the cost of 450,000 dollars by the Japanese government through the Mitsubishi Corporation was officially inaugurated by the former Natural resources and Tourism Minister, Mrs Shamsa Mwangunga in October 2009. "Ngorongoro is one of the World's Heritage Areas and Japan values such places but again we believe that Tanzania is the country through which Africa's natural beauties are showcased," said the Japanese envoy, Mr Okada.
The Acting Conservator with NCAA Mr Bruno Kawasange said his authority will train the personnel who will be handling the equipment to ensure that it is well utilized, maintained and remain in good shape for many years to come. "We want the visitors touring NCAA and even Serengeti to get first-hand information and virtual insight to what they should expect to see in the crater, around the parks or within historical sites even before they enter Ngorongoro," explained Mr Kawasange.
The Loduare Gate, which is essentially a large building in itself, handles an annual traffic of over 1.5 million visitors touring Ngorongoro and Serengeti attractions, the Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli footprints. The gate is also passageway for local travellers connecting between the Northern Zone regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro and the Lake Zone destinations of Mara, Shinyanga and Mwanza. It can also serve as one-stop centre for researchers and students seeking information on the sites.
The previous event to inaugurate the Loduare Premises in 2009, was also graced by Mr Hiroshi Nakagawa the former ambassador of Japan in Tanzania, Yasuhito Hirota the general manager for Mistubishi Corporation (Japan) and Yukimasa Nagashima the executive assistant to MC Chief African regional officer based in Sandton, South Africa.
But what will the NCAA do with the new equipment? The state-of-that-art audio and visual gear is reportedly capable of taking into transit state any visitor to view everything that can be found within the park in a virtual reality mode. The equipment will also help to store data and any important information digitally for future access and can serve as one-stop education and training aid to all people and researchers wanting to learn about Ngorongoro, Serengeti and Olduvai Gorge.
Being where the tarmac road from Arusha ends, once equipped with the visuals visitors to Ngorongoro who may not be keen to taste the rugged terrains of the park can eventually watch everything in the comfort of Loduare gate.