BABATI Town Council expects to enter into a lease agreement of Lake Babati to a Chinese company that is interested in fish stocking.
After a huge decline of fish in the lake, from 20 tonnes to merely four to five tonnes in six months, stakeholders have initiated efforts to revive the once famous lake in terms of fish produce.
The company-XIN SI LUCO Ltd with its headquarters in Arusha wants to enter into lease agreement of the lake, so as do fish stocking, while other environmental stakeholders as well as the Council engage in conservation measures, such as to stop those conducting agricultural and cattle rearing around the lake.
Speaking with councilors, Babati Town Council Executive Director, Fortunatus Fwema, said that after the Urban Planning Committee of the Council was satisfied that the company invests in the lake, the management has written a letter so that they submit to the council’s business plan.
The Town Council Chairman, Mr Mohamed Kibiki called upon his fellow councilors and Babati citizens to welcome the investor if they would abide by terms and conditions put, so as to save the lake whose depth has been decreasing due to human activities leading to soil erosion from uplands, sending it to the lake.
He noted that the expected investment would as well increase income in future and promote tourism, adding that locals themselves could not save the lake, given the bad situation it has gone into.
“It is great to get an investor for fish stocking in the lake, because there will be a lot of benefits socially and economically as many people depend on fish for food, but also for business. We need to involve the citizens in this so that they understand and accept the plan and work on it,” said Mr Kibiki.
However, the council would not endorse the Chinese company that is interested in investing in Lake Babati for fish stocking, until a thorough questioning so as to establish if they would abide by the terms and conditions of the councilors. The company wants to invest in and around the lake, to change it for better.
The lake has different types of fish, such as tilapia, catfish and prawns among others as well as hippopotami and some birds. Before fish stocking, the investor would be required to come up with a finding on effects of mixing different types of fish so that some may not consume others.
Other conditions are to conserve the environment, invest in a fish processing plant at Maisaka Katani and employ local residents in different jobs, such as fishing. The contract would stipulate that the investor should pay tax to the council and if the council is happy with the initial period, it could extend the contract.
There would be a different contract regarding tourism activities in the lake. Babati District Tourism Officer, Mr Francis Lazaro, told the ‘Daily News’ here that some people have been keeping livestock around the lake, something that is not acceptable.
Statistics show that the number of hippopotami has as well gone down, from 90 in 1992 to only 48 in 2016. It would be expected that their numbers go up due to the fact that the female hippopotamus, referred to as a cow, has a gestation period of eight months, with a single calf at a go; reports have it that they are being killed by poachers.
After a research was carried out in 2016 by the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri), Babati District council was advised to plant sisal around the lake to control hippopotami from getting out, being taken out of the lake or elephants entering to devour them. It was as well so advised as a way to end environmental degradation around the area.