Friday, October 22, 2010


In Ta n z a n i a , e nv i ronmental degra d ation of coastal areas is a serious problem, which has escalated in the last 10 years, such that it has now given rise to serious concern. Tanzania’s coastline stretches 800 km along the Indian Ocean, which like other developing countries is experiencing rapid change. The following examples show the dimension of the problem. Dar es Salaam used to have very clean and at t ra c t ive beaches as well as commendabl e tourist beach hotels. But some, if not most of them, are now in danger of falling down because of coastline erosion.

Waves reach the beaches at a terrific speed and as a result erosion is inevitable. This has become possible because of, among other reasons, dynamite fishing, which has destroyed the coral reefs which used to buffer the hotels. Thus, dynamite fishing has not only destroyed life in the sea, but has given the sea a free ticket to destroy the beaches. The Hotel Africana was swallowed by the waters a few years ago, others which might also face extinction in the coming few years include Bahari Beach Hotel, Kunduchi Beach Hotel, Silver Sands Hotel and White Sands Hotel,
which was built just a few years back.

In efforts to fight erosion, hotel owners have c o n s t ructed stone and concrete barri e rs on beaches, but such measures have not stopped the erosion. Apart from that, the construction of these structures has made these beaches ugly and unsuitable for beach - go e rs incl u d i n g tourists. So it is just a matter of years before these hotels will be rendered useless like their predecessor, Hotel Africana.

Another beach hotel has just been stopped in its tracks. This one was being constructed along the Oysterbay. The point about this project is that the hotel, being built by a big businessman in Dar es Salaam is within 60 metres of the shore. This is contrary to the law on such projects. The law says that a hotel should be built a distance of more that 60 metres from the shore. This project was approved during the former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s tenure in office. This raised a lot of eyebrows in the country. The speed at which it was being built also raised a lot of questions.

However, during the campaigns for the general election in 1995, one of the presidential candidates promised to deal with the issue as one of his priorities, if he won. Well, he won and a few months later he said the project owner followed the right procedures to acquire the plot so he did not see the logic in stopping the project. However, a presidential commission on corruption maintained that the plot might have been allocated through corrupt means. This was partly because the law was in force when the alloca-tion was made after it was turned down several times before.

The project owners, Indian Ocean Hotels Ltd., stopped constructing the hotel more than a year ago. There are reports that the government has ordered the demolition of the hotel and offered to compensate the developers for the costs incurred so far. It is said that the owners were issued with a permanent restraining order by the City Commission two years ago and consequently suspended work.

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