TANAPA turns to surveillance to contain fire outbreaks

IN the next financial year 2023/24, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism will strengthen investment on detection and surveillance technologies to help in containing fire incidents in tourism destinations.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary Prof Eliamani Sedoyeka made the statement on Friday in Arusha shortly after presentation of the report findings of the recent fire outbreak at the Kilimanjaro National Parks (KINAPA).

He said the investment is part of a strategy to quickly respond in containing any possible recurrence of fire outbreak at the KINAPA and any other tourism destination available in the county.

“We are looking forward to allocating the budget for purchasing at least one helicopter to be used in simplifying firefighting exercise in case of any occurrence,” he said.

His statement came after the Conservation Commissioner of the Tanzania National Parts (TANAPA) William Mwakilema presented the report of the investigative committee that shows the fire outbreak at the KINAPA was caused by human activities.

The report detailed further that the fire had burned a total of 34.2 square kilometres of natural vegetation.

“Based on our internal information from the investigation unit in collaboration with the police force, the fire started at the resting points, this is an indication that the incident was caused by a human being…but until now we have not found or arrested any suspect of the incident,” he said.

In particular, he said that the fire has destroyed the landscape of the mountain reserve as well as burning the area of trees that support the ecology of Kilimanjaro Mountain, including erica and protea.

Moreover, the Conservation Commissioner noted that despite the challenges which emerged, the conservation paramilitary force in teamwork with other stakeholders developed strategies to deal with the disasters, something that made the fire to be controlled within two days, whilst adding that by the 30th of October the fire was contained.

In a related development, the Commissioner lauded the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Prime Minister’s Office, Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioners Office, stakeholders and other individuals who participated in containing the fire.

“Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) was able to strengthen the firefighting exercise by deploying about 885 soldiers along with two helicopters and vehicles to move soldiers to different places throughout the exercise.” Commissioner Mwakilemi added.

Four weeks ago, the TANAPA Board of Trustees directed the management to conduct a thorough investigation to establish the source of the fire outbreak in Kilimanjaro National Park.

Speaking after visiting the site affected by the arson, including inspecting the progress made in extinguishing the fire, TANAPA Board Chairman General (rtd) George Waitara said; “besides fighting the fire TANAPA should also conduct thorough investigation to establish the source of the fire in order to contain such incidents in future.”

“We value this mountain, our responsibility is to protect it to prevent further damages … Mt Kilimanjaro is crucial for our nation and should stay safe at all costs,” he added.


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