In April this month an investor burned to death a Tanzanian he suspected to be a thief at south beach hotel in Kigamboni. The incident raised many questions, among others being the legality of construction of hotels in the beaches and their effect to the fishery sector. This was a question raised by many and especially human rights and environmental activists.
Tanzania’s laws though not strictly adhered to have provided for the restrictions regarding construction of hotels and permanent buildings in the beaches. The fisheries Act provides that a beach area of 260 meters should be preserved. The first 60 meters can be used on temporary basis while the next 200 meters can be used for different purposes subject to permission granted by the Minister responsible for lands.
The Marine Parks and Reserves Act provides that no activity shall be permitted and no right may be granted to any person in any area that has been declared as a marine park or marine reserve. This is unless the restriction on grant of right among others the minister deems it necessary and makes the recommendations of sites suitable for the erection and operation.
The same law states that where the general management plan is adopted the Minister shall notify the planning agencies of the adoption on the adoption and restriction. This will be subject to condition that no authority shall allocate land and put on allocation to new use any area within a beach area. This condition is unless in beach area an assessment of the environmental impact of the proposed zones activity is conducted. Written notification of the proposed allocation of land or new use should be submitted to the Warden or Unit Manager not less than thirty days prior to preparation of the environmental impact assessment. Where it is apparent that the proposed activity has negative effect on fish and water the advice of the Board shall be sought.
The marine park and reserve Act provides that no person within a marine park or reserve shall except in accordance with laws conduct any sport fishing, tourism or other commercial activity and construct or extend any buildings, road or any other work.
At the same time, the Environmental Management Act prohibits human activities of permanent nature or which by their nature are likely to affect conservation and the protection of beaches in areas within 60 meters. This is unless the Minister may make guidelines for the conduct of human activities within the areas. This section though rarely adhered to, is there to protect the local community in order for them to access the beaches.
These laws in spite of being very clear and with good intentions of among others to protect the people’s right to access the beaches but also to curb violation of human rights by the investors. In addition to that the laws are protecting the fishery sector and to be specific the destruction of the fish species. Destruction of fish is done through the polluted water from the hotels being poured in the water sources. The fish from the polluted water sources affects negatively the people’s healthy and also reduces the income of the fishermen and the country at large. It’s the duty of every Tanzania to advocate for the protection and promotion of our beaches. Together we can!
Koku Kabanza-YET 2011