VOICE OF AMERICA
Tanzania is planning to build a cable car service on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak and a World Heritage site. The country wants to boost tourism, but a quarter-million porters and mountain guides worry the quick ride up the mountain will threaten their livelihoods.
Officials say the cable car will cater to the physically disabled, the elderly and children, and it also will help tourists get up the mountain faster. About 50,000 tourists climb Kilimanjaro annually, bringing tens of millions of dollars to the region. Tanzanian authorities say cable cars will increase tourism by as much as 50%.
The deputy minister for natural resources and tourism, Constantine Kanyasu, believes the project will be a big plus for the tourism industry in Tanzania but concedes change is not easy.
“We expect more camping on top of the mountain than this year, and that should not worry our people that they are going to lose their jobs,” Kanyasu said. “Of course, changes come with some effects. We should not expect Tanzania to be the same in 100 years to come, and we should not have a nation that is prepared to be porters for a lifetime. We need to have changes.”
Jennifer Francis, deputy chairman for the Kili Meru Mountain Guides Society, says the government has not been as transparent as it could be regarding the project. “They only tell us the advantages, but we don’t know its negative effects on the current generation and the next generation,” Francis said. “This confuses us.”
Tanzania is conducting a social and environmental impact assessment before building the Kilimanjaro cable car system.