Loliondo — Government officials in Ngorongoro district, Arusha region are worried by the increasing number of combat weapons recently seized near the border with Kenya.
Speaking here on Sunday, the District Commissioner Rashid Mfaume Taka said the guns may have found way into the area from the neighbouring country.
"The security situation in Ngorongoro has somehow improved but we are concerned by the rising number of firearms getting into the country", he said when briefing the deputy minister for Local Government and Regional Administration Joseph Kakundi on the situation here.
According to the DC, a total of 60 combat weapons, including the dreaded AK 47 guns, were seized recently in the district which shares a long border with Kenya.
Security officials in the remote district believe the guns have been brought into the area from Kenya through the illegal 'panya' routes where there is no border controls.
It is also suspected that the firearms could have been brought in by business people from the other side of the border who transact business with the livestock herders of Loliondo division in Ngorongoro.
Mr Taka stressed the need for increased patrols along the long border between Ngorongoro district and Kenya where movement of people goes on without any formal controls for generations.
He, however, said the situation may find a semblace of a solution with the introduction of the identify cards (IDs). Registration of people seeking IDs commenced last week in Loliondo division.
"The IDs will only be issued to people verified to be residents of the area", he said, calling on the Immigration Department to ensure it posted enough officials in Loliondo to control unauthorized entry of illegal aliens.
Ngorongoro district, specifically the Loliondo division, and the counties on the Kenyan side of the border, are inhabited by the pastoralist Maasai communities, some of whom share the relations.
Most of them cross the border at ease, often attracted to cattle markets on either side, making difficult to distinguish who is a Tanzanian and who is a member of the same ethnic group resident in Kenya.
The visiting deputy minister was also briefed on efforts to resolve the long standing land dispute between the livestock herders in Loliondo and the conservation authorities in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area.
On his part,Mr. Kakunda told members of the District Defence and security Committee that the government should have no mercy on the criminals either from outside or within the country.
Remarks by the Ngorongoro DC have been made only days after the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato) called for enhanced security for the visitors.
The association's executive secretary Sirili Akko said safety and security of the tourists was of paramount importance and that the state organs and the general public should not waver in protecting the tourists.
Tato's statement followed an incident, later played down by the Arusha-based lobby group, in which a group of visiting tourists were waylaid near Lake Natron in the same district and robbed of money and other valuables.
The incident caused a brief scare in the multi-million dollar tour business centred in Arusha but Mr. Sirili insisted; "This one incident should not disturb scheduled tourists from visiting Tanzania".
Early this year while laying a foundation stone for a police station currently under construction at Salle village Mr. Taka warned that the government would have no mercy on people who would cause insecurity in the area which is visited by thousands of foreign tourists each year.
He cited Salle, Mdito and Masusu villages as among the areas which had been subjected to bandit attacks in the past, stressing that the state organs would act hard against the criminals.
The villages are also used as transit for tourists and researchers heading to the Serengeti NP and NCA.
Although no fatal cases of attacks on the tourists and other people has been reported in recent years, the DC said there had been incidents of them being robbed during ambushes.