Tourism players say No to cable cars on Mt Kilimanjaro

Wednesday March 09 2022

Mountain cable cars. FILE PHOTO | POOL

By The Citizen Reporter

Kilimanjaro. A total of 558 tourism players in northern Tanzania have voted resoundingly against a multi-million-dollar cable car project on Mount Kilimanjaro.
However,  in a quick rejoinder, the Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa) said yesterday that planned cable project was still in its conceptual stage and that actual execution would involve government leaders at various stages as well as stakeholders’ opinions.
“The feasibility study for the project is still ongoing, including finding out the environmental impact of executing the project,” Tanapa said yesterday in a statement that was signed by its senior assistant conservation commissioner - corporate communications, Mr Pascal Shelutete.
He said Tanapa, the National Environmental Management Council and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation were working together on the matter, adding that so far no organisation has issued any form of approval for the planned cable car project.
That notwithstanding, actors from key associations in the tourism industry gathered on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro  yesterday to implement the directive of the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Dr Damas Ndumbaro, to convene a meeting of all stakeholders to, among other things, vote for or against the proposed cable car project.
The organisations, whose members voted against the proposed project, include Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato), Tanzania Tour Guides Association (TTGA), Tanzania Porters’ Organisation (TPO), Tanzania Local Tour Operators (TLTO) and the Mount Kilimanjaro Porters Society (MKPS).
The participants have explicitly expressed their reservations on the planned project on mount Kilimanjaro on grounds that it is a sacred place and concerns over conservation, employment for local population and economic context.
“Our stance is clearly NO to this project for conservation grounds on our sacred nation’s icon, employment for our people and the business context,” said Tato Chairman Wilbard Chambulo amid applause.
Mr Chambulo argued that the business plan of the cable car project does not makes commercial sense for the country’s economy, adding that its imminent ecological damage outweighs the expected benefits and will not even create substantial employments for the local folks. “More importantly, Mount Kilimanjaro is our own sacred icon as a country. We cannot afford to let anybody with money to do anything on our divine mountain. It shouldn’t happen in our lifetime” Tato boss noted.
Mr Tim Mdinka, concretised the argument saying Kilimanjaro was a special place where the national flag was hoisted and Uhuru Torch was lit on Independence Day when the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere said:
“We have lighted the Uhuru Torch and placed it at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, to shine within and outside our boundaries, to bring hope where there is despair, love  where there is hatred and respect where there is contempt.”
Mr Mdinka said much as the mountain was respected even before it became a national park, nothing ought to be added on or removed from it.
“The base of the Court of Arm is Mount Kilimanjaro, how come we want to spoil it by pillars and cables,” wondered Mr Mdinka, advising that such special places should be identified countrywide and that any decision be taken on them should involve all the citizens.
The chairman of TLTO, Mr Sam Diah said his members were supporting and rallying behind the Prime Minister’s statement, which he made recently in favour of protecting jobs and conserving the pristine of the Mount Kilimanjaro.
Gracing the 2022 Kilimanjaro Marathon on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mr Majaliwa put it clear that the project campaigners have a daunting task to convince the government to give the contentious plan a green light.
“I’ve heard discussions about the cable cars to be installed on Mount Kilimanjaro. This majestic mountain has its own splendid glory to the adventurers who scale up to the peak on their feet,” the PM said.
“We want the natural vegetation to remain intact. Once you start digging the mountain to erect pillars of cable cars, you will obviously destroy the natural vegetation on the mountain,” Prime Minister added.

Mr Majaliwa further said with cable cars in place, few tourists will prefer trekking and once that happens porters will lose  their rightful employments.
“As you discuss, be prepared to convince us in the government on where you are planning to take these porters. You must build up your case well to convince the government on the fate of the porters and on conserving the mountain’s pristine,” Mr Majaliwa said.