Longido District Commissioner Frank Mwaisumbe told hundreds of residents who gathered at Mundarara village over the weekend, that the firm closes its operations today.
“Green Miles Safaris was supposed to vacate the block since last year as ordered, but the management requested for extension of block occupation to allow them complete some unfinished business and wind up company operations,” the DC stated.
“The time is now up and we expect them to officially hand back the block this Monday January 20," he declared.
The firm was given a grace period of up to December 16, 2019 but until early this month it showed no sign of leaving the site. This prompted the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Adolf Mkenda to order their departure by January 20.
The Mundarara ward councilor, Alais Mushao lauded the government’s move to evict the investor, saying villages in the area were all not happy with the company’s presence in their location.
"The firm has been refusing to settle village levies since 2013 and as of now the debt has accumulated to over 350mn/-," the councilor asserted.
In August last year, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Khamis Kigwangalla issued a statement ordering Green Miles out of Longido block following controversies between the hunting firm and 23 villages in the block’s precincts.
Whether Green Miles will comply with the latest order and vacate the Lake Natron Block today remains to be seen.
This reporter attempted to contact the Director of Green Miles Safaris, Abdallah Awadhi, but without success. People close to him but who are not authorized to comment said that he was currently out of the country.
The management of Green Miles had earlier on refuted complaints of defaulting on levies, saying many of the village cash claims were fabricated as they have been paying all their dues to local leaders.
A total of 47 firms have been granted hunting licences on tracking blocks found in various parts of the country and they are required to settle annual fees amounting to USD 5,000 to each of the surrounding villages. This money is supposed to be invested into community development projects.