23 December 2012

Tanzania: Dar Beach Hotels Resume Business Well Ahead of Ban Lift

BUSINESS returned to normal at Double Tree and Giraffe Ocean View hotels, the two tourist hotels that early this week were ordered to suspend activities until the government was satisfied they complied with environmental requirements.

On the spot check by the 'Sunday News' yesterday established that in essence there had been no suspension of operations whatsoever as the said hotels continued to render services to the public.

Our reporters who went straight to the reservation desk and posed as guests were able to secure bookings for rooms. Reacting to the operations taking place in both hotels, the Deputy Minister, Vice President's Office (Environment), Mr Charles Kitwanga said it was good that the hotel management heeded the government's order.

"Written suspension orders were served to the hotels. The next step should have been deployment of NEMC inspectors who would in turn inform the minister about the degree of compliance for an appropriate action. I am not quite sure the procedures have been observed," he said.

He added: "There is no malice in the whole matter, we only want investors, both local and foreign to comply with the established environmental protection regulations," he reiterated. The Deputy Minister further said construction work at Beach Residence Hotel would resume after the owner had paid the 36m/= penalty.

Speaking to one of the officials at Double Tree Hotel, it was confirmed that the management received the written stop order late in the afternoon on Friday. Asked why business was going on as usual despite the ban, the source at the hotel said it was not possible to check out visitors who had already settled.

"Nevertheless, the sewage defect has been fixed and effective communication is maintained between concerned parties including hotel lawyers, NEMC and the government to make sure that the issue is resolved amicably. We would like to continue with business.

The capacity of the hotel is 152 rooms," the hotel source explained. Neema Kajuni, Front Office Manager at Giraffe Ocean View said there was nothing to hide. She took time to prove the degree of compliance as per the NEMC instructions.

"The greenish dregs from the ocean piled up near sea front of the hotel. It piles up so quickly but it has been removed and cleanliness will be maintained," Neema pledged. The team of journalists inspected the neighbouring hotel which is still under construction, Beach Residence scheduled for complication by end of next year. However, no construction work was going on.

According to Mr Kitwanga, the site manager was arrested for defying NEMC order previously issued to suspend the construction work. The devastated victim (site manager), a Philippino, who spent hours behind bars identified by a single name Abraham (Abby) said he had never seen anything like that in life.

"I have worked in seven different countries but ten hours in police custody without shoes, was quite an excruciating moment. I expected a prompt support from my superiors but I suffered for mistakes that I did not make," Abby explained.

He denied having received a NEMC order in time, insisting that a letter dated December 18, 2012 entailing suspension of activities was presented to him four days later, the day he was arrested. "It was quite an ordeal. I was led to Kawe Police Station like a criminal. I was locked in a small room with 26 people accused of different crimes. I committed none. I could not sit down for 10 hours. I am thinking of going back to the Philippines," he told the 'Sunday News.'

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