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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Bahari Beach Hotel reopening still cloudy

13th May 2012
Bahari Beach Hotel

Bahari Beach Hotel, on the northern beaches of Dar es Salaam is clouded in uncertainty six months after the date set for its official re-opening.

Property of the Libyan Government, the hotel was to have been opened after extensive refurbishing on November 1, 2011 but all arrangements were shelved until further notice.

General Manager Gerard Shraven confirmed to The Guardian on Sunday this week that there was no possibility of having the hotel operational before August this year.

“We are eying for sometimes in August. This is a period penciled for opening but there is yet no specific date fixed,” he affirmed.

“There are a number of matters to be concluded before operations resume. There will be a series of meetings between the Chinese contractors who have been working on the refurbishment, the hotel owners and management team that would be running it,” he explained.

Under the name Laico Bahari Beach Hotel, the tourist facility is owned by Libya Arab African Investment Company (LAICO) Ltd, a portfolio holder for Libya African Portfolio (LAP) during Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s rule. Gaddafi was ousted from power and eventually killed in October 2011 after seven months of fighting between Nato-aided rebels and forces royal to Col. Gaddafi.

However, officially accessible business information like Laico Bahari Beach Hotel website shows that hotel owners – Laico Hotels Ltd (mother company for all Laico hotels in Africa) has its headquarters in Tunis. The general manager attributed the delay on completion of construction work on some areas such as kitchen, which has taken longer contrary to the original schedule.

But when quizzed further as to whether there was any connection between the delay and developments in Libya- homeland of actual owners – the Libyan Government, currently the National Transitional Council (NTC), the general manager admitted the changes had a local impact.

Developments in Libya definitely were the main reason for delays and suspended opening “but as you are aware the situation has come down to normal so we hope this will not be an obstacle anymore.”

This is the first time Bahari Beach Hotel General Manger Shraven has admitted a direct connection between the hotel and Tripoli authorities.

Early in 2011 the UN Security Council passed a resolution directing that all of Libya’s assets be frozen to eventually be used to rebuild the post-war North African country. Shraven used to maintain that he really knew nothing regarding the hotel’s actual proprietors as he communicated with his employers in Tunis.

Last December Shraven told this paper that the owners were waiting for handing over of the hotel by the Chinese contractor to the client, and that this had been delayed due to lack of some equipment which did not arrive in time form outside the country. He said then that there was no actual date scheduled for the hand over but plans were well in place, noting that it was estimated that it would take six to eight weeks after handing over for hotel opening to come abuzz.

Bahari Beach is among assets belonging to Laico Hotels Company which owns hotels in 11 countries in Africa and boasts of investments in 25 out of 54 African countries, some of those being Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Chad, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger and Zimbabwe.

Laico Hotels whose total assets are estimated to be worth $345 million, is headed by board chairman Ibrahim Mabrouk Abubakr and the Managing Director is Gilani Makhzoum.

The group (Laico) is among Libyan business conglomerates listed by UN-Security Council whose assets are claimed to have been benefiting Col. Gaddafi, his family, relatives and close allies in Libya.

Shraven had earlier affirmed, back August, that the refurbished facility would be a good investment which would eventually benefit Tanzania as its investors expect to employ up to 125 workers.

The four-star Bahari Beach Hotel, a luxury facility built by the government for tourism purposes in the 1970s, was privatised about a decade ago after it was listed under the Parastatal Sector Reform Commission (PSRC) ready for divestiture.

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