Speaking after descending from the roof of Africa—Uhuru Peak through the Marangu gate alongside other high-profile climbers, Dr Kigwangalla who was received by Kanyasu said the project is the only sure way of increasing the number of tourists who scale the mountain annually, from the current 50,000 to 100,000.
The minister who has set a record by becoming the first sitting minister in the docket to have scaled the Kili to the very top—5,895 metres above sea level—said the project will enable the elderly, the physically challenged as well as children to enjoy the thrill of climbing Africa’s tallest mountain.
“There is a substantial number of people who wish to climb Mount Kilimanjaro but they currently cannot. A cable car will enable them realize that dream,” he said.
Kanyasu asserted that statistics show that most tourists who come to the country are elderly adults who wish to climb Kili but they fail to do so at present.
“The cable car will serve a special group of tourists as well as researchers but those who want to scale the mountain for adventure will continue enjoying their expedition by walking,” he said.
Dr Kigwangalla descended from his initiative 'Kili Challenge 2019, let’s go to the top’ alongside other high-profile climbers including Miss Tanzania, Silvia Sebastian who also scaled to Uhuru Peak.
Kanyasu revealed the plan early this year, saying the government was already conducting a feasibility study on the project and two companies—one from China and another from a Western country—had shown interest.
The length of the route had not been finalised, with various options under consideration depending on cost and engineering issues, with an environmental impact assessment also set to be carried out.
But porter and guide groups who take tourists up the mountain are opposed to the project as they fear cable cars will reduce the number of climbers, posing a threat to their means of livelihood.
The Mount Kilimanjaro Porters Society (MKPS) said the project will deny employment to hundreds of mountain porters scaling Mount Kilimanjaro on a regular basis.
Tanzania’s earnings from tourism jumped 7.13 per cent last year, helped by an increase in arrivals, with USD2.43 billion collected during the year, up from USD2.19 billion in 2017.
Tourism is the country’s main source of hard currency, with holidaying on beaches, wildlife safaris and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro which has three volcanic cones as principal items in visitors’ itinerary.