Security cameras boost Zanzibar’s efforts to protect tourists from larceny
The Spice Island of Zanzibar is implementing security measures to protect tourists and visitors in this small East African archipelago in efforts to promote tourism attractions within the country.
The new and groundbreaking approach enables the security apparatus to beef up the safety of the visitors in real-time and to know exactly where and when there has been an unpleasant incident.
The Revolutionary government of Zanzibar says that it has installed hundreds of cameras within the most visited places of tourist attraction including Mji Mkongwe (Stone Town), Forodhani, Vuga, Maisara, Kisiwandui and across the Unguja town using modern technology of closed-circuit television (CCTV) security cameras and other security equipment.
Zanzibar is generally not considered dangerous to tourists but previously there were incidents of armed robbery, bag snatching, scams, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and pickpocketing.
In April 2022 there were allegations of sexual assault by a Nigerian national Zainab Oladehinde in a tourist hotel in Zanzibar claiming that she was almost raped in April 2021 but she decided to come out in the open in a Twitter thread a year after the incident.
However, the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism (ZCT) and the Isles security apparatus initiated a lengthy investigation and said its results would be made public. However, to date, police have not given out the report of the finding.
Hamad Khamis Hamad, Zanzibar Commissioner of Police (CP) says the police have managed to reduce the cases of theft and other incidents by forming a special tourism police unit and installation of security cameras.
“Regarding the sexual assault allegations by the Nigerian national, there is an investigation going on and our report will be made public soon. We condemn any harm or threat to visitors of the peaceful islands of Zanzibar,” said Hamad.
According to Hamad, the incidents of robbery have now been reduced, and most of the culprits caught were handed a jail term.
Simai Mohammed Said, Minister for Tourism and Antiquities told Travel News East African in Zanzibar that they have also formed a special tourism and diplomacy police force unit with more than 150 well-trained officers from different security organs to provide security for tourists and their personal effects.
Simai said that more cameras will be installed every year in the most remote areas of this small Island and Pemba to protect not only visitors and tourists but also ordinary citizens of Zanzibar and their properties.
“The security equipment will help our officers to offer real-time assistance if there is an incident of harm or robbery to a visitor. These measures will help to increase the number of tourists, which will contribute to Zanzibar’s national economy through tourism, job creation, and as an important source of foreign exchange. We have managed to implement the project successfully and the system is now working productively and connected to other areas,” he said.
According to Simai, the project cost an initial budget of Tsh. 20 billion to install security cameras and other protection systems. Currently, all cameras are placed in the planned areas and connected to the communication system of all security units within Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is blessed with historical buildings and places that give it worldwide recognition including the Stone Town (Mji Mkongwe) which is recognized as a World Heritage Site.
For a long time, these historical buildings and places were not prioritized for preservation and restoration which led many places to wear out and others to fall.
At present, the Government has set a special strategy to collaborate with the private sector to strengthen those historical places so that they continue to be attraction sites for visitors.
Stone Town (Mji Mkongwe) has been a prominent place and activity due to the peculiarity of attraction which comes from its grand old Arabian homes lining the narrow streets and winding alleys. Most homes were built in the 19th Century with little changes over the last 200 years, which makes it the world’s oldest functioning Swahili city.
“As Zanzibar, we are excited to be at the forefront of an innovative new idea to put security measures ahead aimed at boosting our efforts to protect tourists and visitors on our Island. We would like to acknowledge and express our appreciation for the considerable effort by numerous role players over the last few years that has resulted in this much-needed injection of funding into the tourism sector. We are confident that this will assist in increasing the tourism activities and stimulating the development of additional novel market-based mechanisms to support the objectives of Tourism For All,” said
Fatma Mabrouk Khamis, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Zanzibar.
Fatma said that the project is an example of their continued efforts to foster innovation, and best practices and unlock new revenue streams to promote a system of sustainable tourism that contributes to the Zanzibar economy.
According to Fatma, the government has also put in place strategies to strengthen tourism for all to ensure that every citizen benefits from the fruits of tourism and participates in maintaining and developing tourism along with strengthening services and attractions for tourists.
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the government also continued to prepare the main development plan and maps of the Kwa Bikhole – Bungi area to put other tourist attractions in the Kwa Bikhole area and to develop the infrastructure for the provision of services including building a boat park, installing cameras and other security system.
To attract more tourists, Zanzibar is strengthening historical sites by making repairs to old buildings with support from UNESCO, at the Living Creatures Museum building, and the Museum of Peacebuilding located at Mnazi Mmoja area in Unguja. It also repairs and strengthens the Watoro Cave and Kijiji Cave located in Makangale in Pemba Island and strengthens the historic mosques and tombs located in Chwaka Tumbe.
“We are also cooperating with the private sector in investing and strengthening beach sports which are a major attraction for tourists. The existence of these activities will increase employment for our citizens as well as increase the country’s income,” said Fatma.
The Stone Town Conservation and Development Authority has for long been responsible for ensuring that the historical heritage of the buildings, natural culture, scenery, and other attractions of the Stone Town remain in their natural state for the benefit of the present and future generations as well as the wellbeing of tourism sectors and maintaining the heritage status of Zanzibar city.
In the process of protecting the historical sites, the Department of Antiquities has succeeded in obtaining a patent in the areas of the Forodhani People’s House (Palace Museum), the Old Fort, the Hamamni Hamam, the Museum of the One Nazi and the Beit el Ajaab Forodhani House.
The government is also continuing with a comprehensive program to develop tourism and strengthen different attractions to bring prosperity to the people of Zanzibar as well as rehabilitate the historical areas of Fukuchani, Unguja, and Mkamandume in Pemba.
Economically, the tourism sector in Zanzibar Islands continues to contribute significantly to the development of the country by bringing in foreign currency contributing more than 27 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The tourism industry has also been able to provide direct jobs to the people of Zanzibar.
The growth of the tourism sector has led to great enthusiasm for the people of Zanzibar to invest in agriculture, fishing, breeding, and transportation activities.
The improvement of the tourism sector in the islands of Zanzibar greatly helps the economic activities of the country by increasing the income of each individual as well as increasing the country’s income.
The Islands of Zanzibar have also continued to open new tourism markets including to countries like Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and the United States of America, and is listed as one of the three countries in the world that are safe for tourists to visit.
Technicians installing cameras at Mji Mkongwe in Zanzibar. The Isles government plans to install security across the country in phases. All Pix By Said Mmanga.
Members of the security apparatus at the security camera control center in Zanzibar.