Dar es Salaam. There is growing discontent among hoteliers over the manner in which an ‘inter-ministerial’ taskforce is conducting a quality inspection exercise within their establishments.
Hotel and restaurant operators are now seeking intervention from the Ministry of Tourism to ensure fairness and transparency in the crackdown.
On Friday, a meeting that had reportedly been planned between the ministry and representatives of hoteliers failed to take place for reasons yet to be made clear.
But some operators accused the taskforce of acting in bad faith over a broken promise to suspend the random inspection until a brokered decision was arrived at.
Most hoteliers feel they have been unfairly targeted and ill-treated in the crackdown launched to examine the quality of meat and dairy products in their establishments.
They are particularly displeased with the heavy fine of Sh20 million being imposed by the taskforce on any hotel or restaurant found with expired meat or dairy product.
The fine is to be paid within 24 hours.
There are also questions surrounding the lack of official stamps on forms that hoteliers are said to be told to fill in. More so, it is reported the taskforce is not issuing EFD receipts to those paying the fines.
“How do we know that this is not a scheme to extort money from hotels?” one operator questioned on condition of anonymity. The crackdown is said to be led by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.
Efforts to reach ministry officials to comment were futile by the time of filing this report. But according to an official who identified himself as the taskforce’s team leader in Dar es Salaam, Imani Sichalwe, the exercise is being conducted by officers from the ministry, the Police Force, Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA).
It first came to the attention of the Hoteliers Association of Tanzania on December 13.
Numerous establishments have been inspected and fined millions of shilling. The Hotel Association of Tanzania (HAT) chief executive Nura-Lisa Karamagi has described the fines as “arbitrary, imposed and excessively punitive.”
She told The Citizen on Friday that some hotels had not been able to pay the hefty fines and, therefore, face the risk of business closure.
It was due to mounting frustration that they reached out to the Ministry of Tourism for help.