SOLAR power is among modern environmentally friendly technologies. Such a background has recently necessitated invention of a project the implementation of which is expected to reduce environmental degradation by setting up traffic lights that use solar.
That is a statement from the Director of Environment in the Vice President's Office, Dr Julius Ningu. Dr Ningu made the remark at the inauguration ceremony of solarpowered traffic lights, which have been fitted at Bagamoyo Road by Ensol Tanzania Limited. Ensol Tanzania Limited is an electric company that engages itself in the supply and fitting of solar power equipment.
The company is situated at Ubungo, Dar es Salaam. It rose above other companies in a competitive tender process. Dr Ningu had this to say on the matter: "It is my hope that these lights are not only for environmental protection, but they also help the tourism sector here in Bagamoyo because even the ones fitted at the carvings market, enable the artist to do their work at night as well."
In the ceremony that was held at midweek on Mwambao Primary School grounds here, Dr Ningu said the Vice President's Office, in collaboration with Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, bearing in mind the importance of Bagamoyo in as far as tourism attraction is concerned, saw it pertinent for the project to be implemented in Bagamoyo at Dunda, Kaole and Mlingotini hamlets.
That is a Coast Sustainable Tourist Project that is a model of what is being implemented in eight African countries, namely Tanzania Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Seychelles, and Gambia.
The project is sponsored by Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in collaboration with United Nations World Trade Organization (UNWTO). Bagamoyo District Tourism Officer, who is also the Coordinator to the project, Mr Obed H. Mwinuka, says the Project is under the auspices of Usage and Sustainable Management of Energy and Environment after it became apparent that the Old Town was always in the dark.
Furthermore, local entrepreneurs such as those making carvings and food vendors (mama lishe), found it difficult to carry on with their activities during the night. "These lights are really magnificent and will help so much people around even when we have power blackout in the areas and citizens are impressed by the project," said Mr Mwinuka.
A citizen who preferred anonymity said the lights have now restored security that was lacking in Bagamoyo for a while, reassuring tourists of their safety at night. The lights have at the same time increased efficiency of those working in the areas as pickpockets and other criminals have their hands tied.
The Director of Projects Development at Ensol Tanzania Limited, Mr Prosper Magali said the Bagamoyo project has in place 20 traffic lights already, 17 of which have been fitted in Stone Town and three others at bus stand area, the gateway to many visitors.
One of Bagamoyo residents of about 60 years of age, Ms Mletwa Rajabu was excited as she spoke of the lights. "We are thankful to the Government and the company both of whom made it possible for us to have the lights (Ensol).
I wish the Government does not to part ways with the technicians so that all Bagamoyo roads are furnished with this wonderful technology whose benefit we have witnessed and enable us to walk freely and safely all the time," Ms Rajabu said.
Safety and security which the lights have brought, are expected to boost tourism in Bagamoyo. Moreover, the locals now get more time for production and supply of goods and services, raising their revenue. Speaking at the function on behalf of Bagamoyo District Commissioner Mr Ahmed Kipozi, Deputy Chairperson of Bagmoyo Town Council Mukhsin Mwintanga commended Ensol technicians for the work well done.
"I thank all our experts for the huge work that has turned this town (Bagamoyo) to be so beautiful and safe to visitors even at night and also saves power charges that we would otherwise have to foot. We, above all, now conserve environment," said Mr Mwintanga. Mr Mwintanga reminded Bagamoyo residents to all the time take care of the project as their own and feel free to report the consequent success and challenges.
"The lights have changed Bagamoyo, it is now different from the way it was years back ... it will be a shame if Bagamoyo fail to safeguard the project. They could last even more than 20 years if we are responsible.
"I know there must be some shortcomings, but we the people have to sort them out. It will be scandalous for the district if the lights are destroyed or we do not take enough care of the project in general," he said.
Technical Coordinator of the Integrated Sustainable Tourism Project at UNIDO from Nairobi Kenya, Dr Hugh Gibbon said he was so happy at last the launching took place after Bagamoyo District cooperated with Ensol experts to such cause. Happier that the lights are environment-friendly, Dr Gibbon said the presence of the lights in different streets of Bagamoyo would boost tourism and business in the town.
"Having the lights, taking care of them and safeguarding the project, will make Bagamoyo tourism prosper. I commend all who were involved, including Ensol experts," said Dr Gibson.
Giving their comments on different occasions, Engineer Magali and Ensol Chief Technical Officer, Mr Julius Mwakalukwa said the traffic lights that use solar power are so friendly to environment because they do not use firewood, fuel nor wind in their energy production. Moreover, the sun produces and supplies its energy free of charge.
"These solar energy products and services are obtained without charge, bureaucracy or corruption. There is no monthly payment after fitting the lights and no experience of power shortages, nor do they need regular renovations. You do not have to erect poles anywhere they can be made available even in areas where National Power Grid is not expected to be made available," said Mr Mwakalukwa. Engineer Magali said, in providing its services, Ensol bears in mind quality of goods and services, coupled with honesty of its employees and considers actual needs of the consumer.
Senior Tourism Officer from the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources, Mr Joseph Sendwa said tourism policy in the country insists of sustainable tourism and that tourists should appreciate it. "These tourists are so conscious of their safety and want to see the environment conserved. The lights should be maintained so that tourists are safe. "The lights will be so helpful to Bagamoyo people because their activities are done all day long, and this will help them to boost their revenue," said Mr Sendwa.