What next after four hotels in Zanzibar go up in flames?

Wednesday November 24 2021

An aerial view of the hotels on fire in Jambiani, Zanzibar

Unguja. The site of the four tourist hotels in Jambiani, Zanzibar that were reduced to ashes on Friday evening is one of despair.

The glamour and the finesse that once filled the beach plots are now all but gone!

For both owners and workers, it is all gloom as they try to come to terms with the hungry flames that consumed what was once upon a time their source of livelihood.

They were left with nothing to fall back after everything was burnt down with fire and rescue department failing to save the buildings from fires that was mainly fueled by the strong winds.

However even amid that gloom it has emerged that some of the workers who were at the hotel will be retained to work on the reconstruction of the hotels.

The four hotels that were destroyed by the November 19, inferno are Villa de Coco, Spice Island, Fun Beach and Cobe, they jointly employed 148 workers who are now jobless.


Speaking to The Citizen, one of the workers who identified himself as Ali Ramadhan said being involved in construction work will help alleviate their problems.

“As we know construction of such buildings cannot be less than six months that means we have to stay idle for a very long time, something that may have adverse effects as well,” he said

Florian Bimanwa who was also employed at one of the hotels admits that though the income might not be sufficient it will be better than having no employment.

By yesterday work of clearing the debris has already began with owners saying reconstruction work is set to begin work in January 2022.

Owners on the other hand have called on authorities to see how they can aid their quick return to operations given the fact that they had only returned to business after a long layout which was caused by the outbreak of Covid-19.

Fabian Fabian of Villa De Coco and Jamal Salim of Fun Beach was full of praise for the authorities on how they cooperated in the rescue of guests who were in the hotels.

“The authorities responded with urgency, though almost everything was burnt down, there was no life that was lost and that is what is most important,” said Jamal Salim.

In another development, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (SMZ) has promised support for hotel owners to make sure they return to business as soon as possible.

Speaking after visiting the Jambiani in South Unguja Region and comforting the victims, Second Vice President of Zanzibar Hemed Suleiman Abdulla instructed the authorities and institutions involved in tourism to come up with suggestions to advise the government on how to restore the status of the hotels.

“I would like to empathize with everyone affected by this tragedy, but I would like to ask the investors to know that the government is affected by this crisis and will extend its co-operation in assisting them in every way possible,” said Abdulla.

Abdulla also called on the authorities responsible for providing services to investors to continue providing education to investors on the best materials to use in the construction of beach hotels to avoid such tragedies.

On her part, the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Lela Mussa, said that despite the fire causing losses that run into billions of shillings, the true value of the loss is yet to be established.

The impact is huge because three hotels have all been destroyed but even the other one which had 40 rooms, 38 rooms were destroyed. We will help them in many areas,” she said.