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Information was received from a regular source in Dar es Salaam, that the Double Tree Dar es Salaam was closed down by order of a government minister, who also reportedly on the spot revoked the environmental certificate over allegations of uncontrolled discharge of sewage into the nearby Indian Ocean.
This follows an earlier order to pay a fine, which according to the source, the hotel has not done following a growing dispute by the hotel industry in Dar es Salaam with the Tanzanian government and the Dar es Salaam city council over the issue of sewage connections. A number of other hotels are reportedly targeted, too, raising suspicion that so close to the holiday season there are rather more murky issues at hand now, with one of those asked to comment responding: “Why do you even ask? You lived long enough in East Africa to know what that means when they come with closure notices just ahead of the holidays. They want something, and that something is not compliance. It cannot be compliance, because [the] Dar City Council has failed us all, and now someone needs a punch bag. So take an educated guess what these so-called visits by officials are really looking for, or do I need to spell it out?”
From feedback received, it is clear that the city of Dar es Salaam has catastrophically failed to increase its capacity to deal with sewage and process it, and in a number of cases, hotels claim they are unable to feed sewage into the city’s sewer system. Survey results undertaken in Dar among city residents and businesses and recently published reports suggest that 78 percent of those sampled singled out their dissatisfaction with sewage services, and at least one source has suggested that hotels seeking connections are asked for exorbitant payments which points to ulterior motives.
Many investors have accused government to turn on them once they have brought in their money and got their projects off the ground in Tanzania, in some cases alleging that a number of government ministers and officials are still mentally rooted in the days of the command economy of the 70s when bureaucrats could almost at will decide on the fate of businesses under the then socialist policies. Hoteliers have in the past demanded better police patrols in their neighborhoods following a sharp rise in violent attacks, robberies, and muggings of guests and – as reported her a few weeks ago, even a murder of a tourist visitor when a mugging went wrong – but have been met with a lukewarm response from authorities.
“They are quick to send in dozens of riot police when they think there is an opposition political rally somewhere and always have fuel and resources for that. When we bring our issues to the table, we are told resources are limited, there is not enough fuel, not enough officers, and such sorry excuses. Doing business in Tanzania can be quite maddening,” added another source while discussing the circumstances of the closure order.
At least one contributor with an apparent insight into the specific issues at hand said: “When a hotel cannot connect to the main sewage lines, they need to use septic tanks and have them emptied on a regular basis. The hotel industry has raised this issue, but it seems government is turning the table on them, demanding that each hotel near the sea must install a sewage treatment plant. This is not possible to do in just a week or two. It requires detailed planning, and for that matter permissions and licenses to do that, and the bureaucratic red tape here is a nightmare.
I see willingness from hotels to do the job the city council has failed to do, after all it is their mandate and responsibility, but it takes time to accomplish that. So when they now come and close a fellow hotel, single it out, there is a lot more to it. There is no good will, there is a motive for something else. I am sure they tried something and failed, and this is how they react.” This is te sad reality of doing business it seems and being at the mercy of a bureaucrazy – pun intended – gone crazy.
Efforts to ascertain if the hotel has since asked the guests to leave and cancelled planned Christmas and holiday season functions were not successful at the time of going to press.
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