(eTN) – Following the reported collapse of mediation efforts initiated by the complainants HAT, TCT, and TATO – allegedly caused by TANAPA negotiators not moving an inch from their hard line position – a court in Tanzania barred TANAPA from implementing their planned collection at park gates of concession fees, which according to current agreements are to be paid from hotel, resort, lodge, and camp operators directly to TANAPA, until the principal case has been heard.
“These fees are built into our rates, our tariffs, and we have been submitting the required dues to TANAPA in the past and continue to do so irrespective [of] what their propaganda is saying. What we rejected was the unilateral rise in such fees they tried to impose on us. It also exposes TANAPA as an organization of blackmailers and extorters who have done Tanzania tourism a lot of damage.
“When they stopped safari cars last year from entering the parks unless tourists or drivers were paying in cash, the charges already paid for through the accommodation tariffs, it caused a global storm. I don’t think they even understand the meaning of a PR nightmare. Pictures, tweets, comments on Facebook, raced around the world sent by clients held hostage at park gates, lacking food, drink, and amenities. It gave Tanzania a bad name, gave our tourism industry a big problem in a year we were to celebrate 50 years of first gaining independence from Britain and made TANAPA look like a bunch of highway robbers.
“Those responsible should be held to account for wrongful imprisonment of drivers and tourists at park gates, and they showed they have no regard for either contracts or human rights. You should have heard the comments from tourists when they finally reached our camp,” said a regular source from Arusha before adding, “We are confident we will win the principal case, because TANAPA has broken the law.”
In a related development, stakeholders have, at the coast, also rejected TANAPA’s attempts to expand the Tanga Marine Park inland, accusing the organization of land grabbing, raising more questions over the sanity of TANAPA seniors actually scheming up such projects and then behaving like dictators. “From the feedback my drivers gave me last year, when they were stuck at the park gates, that stand off could well have resulted in much worse. What if one of those TANAPA lunatics would have ordered their gate staff to use force or hold tourists at gun point? This organization has gone out of control and all the good work done in the past is unraveling when failed leaders are able to trample on the general laws of the country,” another source mentioned, “TANAPA needs a new leadership, a new philosophy on top, a sense of partnership that we are all in this together and the private sector is not their paymaster general and window dress of public-private partnership. We shall go and tell their donors the whole story to show people around the world when they deal with TANAPA, their smiles are two faced and what they are really made of,” clearly expressing a growing anger.