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Tuesday 30 July 2013

Livingstone Curio Traders Praise Government Over New Modern Market

Traders at Mukuni Victoria Falls Curio Market in Livingstone have praised the Patriotic Front (PF) Government for constructing a new market in the area.
Curio traders at the Victoria Falls world heritage site in Livingstone have thanked Government for building them a modern market after years of operating from makeshift stands.
The National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) received more than K6 million from the Government to upgrade various infrastructure at the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site which include the construction of the new curio market and the traders, whose makeshift stalls were a few metres from the entrance to the falls, have been relocated upstream of the Victoria Falls where a shop has been set up.
The over 200 traders, mostly from Mukuni village in Kazungula, earn a living from selling their handicrafts to foreign and local tourists who visit the seventh wonder of the world.
Speaking in Livingstone recently, Victoria Falls Curio Traders Association chairperson Patrick Makale said members are happy that they will soon see the completion of a modern market.
Mr Makale said a decent trading environment is important to the traders because it has the capacity to add value to their products and attract more customers.
“We were operating in makeshift stalls where four curio traders would share an old newspaper to display their artifacts. This wasn’t good because customers had second thoughts about the quality of our crafts.
“We’re really happy that Government released funds for the construction of the market and this means our crafts will be even more secure because we will have rooms where they will be kept safe, unlike in the past when we had to hire guards,” he said.
The new market will have 52 stores to cater for about 220 traders.
Mr Makale said although the market is not big enough, the traders are happy with its decency as it is far better than the makeshift ones.
He said the traders intend to turn one of the new stands into an HIV and AIDS awareness centre whose proceeds will be used to sensitise the Mukuni village community on the dangers of HIV and AIDS.
And the curio market’s project manager, Larry Sibulowa, said the construction works will be completed early next month.
Mr Sibulowa of Kalomo Contractors said the works are at 80 percent and that traders should expect a quality structure.
“We’ve just started roofing and we’re yet to start partitioning the stores. We have all the materials here,” he said.Mr Malake, whose members relocated to pave way for the construction of a new market, said in an interview in Livingstone that the new premises would add value and beauty to one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Open bus for tourists launched in Victoria Falls

Patrick Chitumba Victoria Falls Reporter

KAYS travel and Tours has launched the first ever Victoria Falls open bus for tours in and around the resort town.

The open bus was launched in the resort town on Wednesday last week at a function attended by players in the tourism industry.The bus which is a double decker with a seating capacity of about 70 passengers did its maiden trip around the resort town as agencies in the industry enjoyed the cool breeze especially from the top deck on a mild-to- hot Victoria Falls day.

In his speech, the managing director of Quadruple Holdings, the owners of Kays Travel and Tours, Mr Godfrey Pasipanodya said the bus was coming ahead of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly.

Zimbabwe and Zambia will be co-hosting the forthcoming UNWTO general assembly in Victoria Falls and Livingstone from 24 to 29 August.

“We are here today to witness the launch of this open tour bus. We want to change travel and tours in the resort town, we want to offer a different product aimed at making the resort town a much sort destination,” he said.

Mr Pasipanodya said they were going to offer airport transfers, village tours and township tours to tourists visiting Victoria Falls.

“On top of that we are also offering tours for school children, tours around the resort town, along the Zambezi River to the historic Victoria Falls Bridge. All this is to provide a variety for tourist visiting Victoria Falls,” he said.

In line with the upcoming general assembly, Mr Pasipanodya said the bus offered an exciting opportunity where delegates could feel the spray coming from the Victoria Falls as they make their way to and from Victoria Falls and Livingstone for the plenary sessions.

Source: Open bus for tourists launched in Victoria Falls (29/07/13)

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Work on second Zambezi Bridge in Tete progresses

22 July 2013

Construction of the deck of the new second bridge over the Zambezi River in the city of Tete, in Mozambique, is due for completion before the end of this year, the director-general of road company Estradas do Zambeze, Jorge Valério said in Tete. “After laying the deck finishing work will be carried out, including construction of guard rails, electrical installations and paving, which take longer,” he said. However, Valério said that, taking into consideration the current rate of construction, the bridge will be finished and delivered to the Mozambican government a month before the date outlined in the contract (September 2014). Construction began in April 2011.

The new bridge over the Zambezi River in the city of Tete is located at Benga, about 5 kilometres downstream of the current Samora Machel bridge, and is 715 metres long and 14.80 metres wide including both the road and pavements on either side. The bridge will reduce traffic on the Samora Machel bridge, which includes heavy vehicles carrying goods from landlocked areas in countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana to the port of Beira and vice versa, and is restricted to one vehicle at a time, causing delays and tailbacks. The work is expected to cost some 105.2 million euros and includes repairs on around 260 kilometres of road linking the city of Tete to the borders with Zimbabwe, on the way to the capital Harare, and with Malawi, to its capital, Blantyre.


Background: Mozambique to build new bridge over the Zambezi, BBC News, 8 July 2010

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Committee recommends rejection of Lower Zambezi NP mining project

Another step towards the rejection of a mining licence issued, without due process, for an open cast mining development in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia, has been taken as a Zambian Parliamentary Committee strongly recommends rejection of the project. The final decision now rests with the Minister of Environment, Wylbur Simuusa, who has said a government decision will be made within the next month.

The Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism has declared:

‘Your Committee recommends that the proposed mining project at Kangaluwi in the Lower Zambezi be rejected for the following reasons:

(i) the mining licence that Mwembeshi Resources holds was issued without following the requirements of the law and procedure and is invalid and should be revoked;
(ii) there should be no mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park which should be reserved and preserved as a conservation area and heritage for purposes of tourism development;
(iii) the Government should ensure that the issuance of mining licences follows the legal and laid down procedures; further, the work of the inter-Ministerial Committee should be strengthened.’

The final decision on this issue now rests with the Zambia's Minister of Environment, Wylbur Simuusa, who had allowed the Bermuda-registered and Australian securities-listed mining company to appeal the rejection of their EIS by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency. National media reported the Minister as saying: "I don't want to make a decision alone because that will set a precedence especially that this is not the only project we have which is located in a protected area. Most of the oil and gas deposits are found in game and forest reserves. As a country, where do we place more value between mining and conservation?" This should be answered by everyone, should we allow mining or not or can we have measures to ensure that mining runs side by side with conservation? It is not an easy decision and whatever we say will become a legacy so we have prepared a Cabinet memo and this month a collective decision will be made in the interest of the country since we have to weigh the advantages of having an economic project against environmental protection, human and wildlife."

Source: Mining in Lower Zambezi National Park

A conflict of interests, Zambezi Traveller, 26 June, 2013
Environmentalist cautions government on Kangaluwi copper project, The Zambian Post, 8 June, 2013
Minister dismisses petition against UNWTO assembly, 25 May, 2013.
Mining in Park thrown out, 9 December, 2013
Environmentalists petition UNWTO members to boycott assembly, Victoria Falls Bits n Blogs, 18 May, 2013

Saturday 13 July 2013

Work on water pump installation in Victoria Falls nears completion

THE multi-million dollar work on the installation of water and sewer pumps as well as rehabilitation of the road network in Victoria Falls ahead of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly is nearing completion, an official said.Zimbabwe and Zambia are co-hosting the general assembly between 24 and 29 August.

Ahead of the tourism indaba, the 20km Victoria Falls International Airport-town road is being expanded while roads leading to hotels, lodges and residential areas are being resealed.

A total of 10 water pumps and seven for sewer have been installed at the water and sewerage works as part of Government’s efforts to increase water supplies to the resort town in time for the general assembly.

In an interview at the council chambers yesterday, acting town clerk, Mr Philip Ndlovu, said the water and sewer pumps were already in place.

“The installation of pumps has been completed. A total of 17 water and sewer pumps were bought for the purpose so that the town does not experience any water shortages,” said Mr Ndlovu.

He said what was left was the rehabilitation of water valves, the chemical room and general security of the water station.

“We are also working on improving the security at the water works by way of erecting a new perimeter fence and improving on the lighting,” said Mr Ndlovu.

He said on the road rehabilitation programme, they had completed resealing 17,2km of the road network in the resort town.

Mr Ndlovu said what remained was the rehabilitation of some sections of the road network especially in Mkhosana Township.

“After resealing, we are commencing road markings and signage. We are implementing the Sadc standard of signage and markings after which we are going to do street lighting. There is, however, a new extension of Livingstone Way to the hospital,” he said.

Source: Work on water pump installation in Victoria Falls nears completion (11/7/13)

Monday 8 July 2013

Victoria Falls will be a 'cyber city' by UNWTO

07 July 2013

VICTORIA FALLS will be a cyber city by the time Zimbabwe co-hosts the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly with Zambia in August, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi has said.

Minister Mzembi made the remarks in Harare on Friday last week at an event where his ministry received communication equipment from mobile phone operator Econet Wireless for its UNWTO General Assembly command centre in Harare.

Econet Wireless will invest significantly in communication equipment and infrastructure to be used for the purposes of the UNWTO General Assembly after agreeing to become the ministry's official communication partner for the mega tourism event.

Econet Wireless will set up another communication command centre in Victoria Falls and further invest in state-of-the-art technology for flawless communication during and after the event scheduled for Victoria Falls and Livingstone.

"Victoria Falls will be a cyber city by the time we commence the proceedings of the UNWTO General Assembly on August 24 (2013). That is a condition that we must answer to the general assembly secretariat (that we can give security and comfort to delegates visiting Zimbabwe for the UNWTO General Assembly," Minister Mzembi said.

Source: Bulawayo24

Victoria Falls to hold carnival for UNWTO

Victoria Falls will hold the country’s second carnival in Victoria Falls next month as a welcoming gesture to thousands of tourists expected to attend the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly. Karikoga Kaseke, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive told the Daily News his organisation will hold the carnival on August 23 on the eve of the UNWTO assembly in line with a government directive.

“We have been allocated $300 000 to host the carnival on tourism night in Victoria Falls on the eve of the UNWTO General Assembly,” said Kaseke. “Although the funds are not enough, we are going to do our best to ensure that we give international tourists something to remember about Zimbabwe.”

The forthcoming Victoria Falls event will be a sequel to the hugely-successful inaugural Zimbabwe International Carnival held in Harare in May. The carnival presented a platform for the country to showcase its culture, trade, tourism and investment potential through different animated carnival floats paraded through the streets of the capital.

The ZTA chief executive said although the Victoria Falls carnival would not be of the same magnitude as the Harare one due to geographical and demographical reasons, ZTA had lined up an exciting galaxy of local and international artistes to grace the event.

“Most of the local artistes who performed during the Harare carnival such as Suluman Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah have already confirmed their participation while we are still waiting to hear from the targeted international artistes,” he said.

The tourism boss highlighted that carnivals the world over have become good platforms for destination marketing. “This is especially true when we talk of cultural tourism. This is because a nation’s culture and its people are depicted through carnivals,” he said.

Source: DailyNewsLive (7 July 2013)

Saturday 6 July 2013

The truth about Walking with Lions

AFRICA GEOGRAPHIC - Is walking with lions good conservation? Probably not.
By Peter Borchert, July 3, 2013

Close encounters with Africa’s megafauna is an irresistible magnet for many tourists in Africa, and for some the closer the encounter the greater the thrill.

So when a tourism operator offers the chance, for a fee, to ‘walk with lions’ it is no surprise that there is a steady flow of punters eager to do it. And when it is claimed that the money goes towards an elaborate project purporting to rewild lions, it seems, superficially at least, to be a Good Thing.
After all Africa’s wild lion population is in bad shape. A half -century ago some 100,000 lions ranged across Africa’s savannas, but lion habitat is only a quarter of what is was then and today lion numbers are fewer than 30,000. Forty per cent of these live in Tanzania and only nine countries can claim to have more than 1,000 wild living lions. To say that lions in the wild are on a one-way ticket to extinction is arguably no overstatement. So where could there be a problem with any attempt to reverse the trend?

Well, controversy and conservation are well acquainted and pretty well constant companions. And around the operations of Antelope Park in Gweru, Zimbabe and their sister operations called Lion Encounter at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia where ‘hands on’ interaction with these great felines is promoted, the controversy is well and truly raging.

Antelope Park, as stated on its website, is “home to the world-famous ALERT lion rehabilitation programme, as seen in the major UK TV documentary series Lion Country.” ALERT, it would seem, is the umbrella organisation in a network of subgroups: ALERT is a non-profit body but the subgroups are not.

The nub of the issue is the ALERT ‘vision’, which is founded on a four-stage rewilding strategy, with stage four being the successful release of lions into true conservation areas. One understands that grand ideas are not always realised overnight, but ALERT was founded in 2005 and has yet to release any lions into the wild. But lions, true to the basic strategy of all life, reproduce. Cubs taken from their pride groups to walk with tourists soon outgrow their purpose and are moved up a stage and ‘new’ walking specimens are brought in. The lions in the middle stages of the rehabilitation model will mature and will breed. And as the breeding cycle continues the numbers of contained lions grows. Unless lions are legally released into a wild area, the ‘captive’ population has to balloon. It’s simple arithmetic. In fact figures provided to Africa Geographic by ALERT show a large build up of baby lions (where the money is made), a significant death rate in the middle stages and no successful final stage releases to date. After 8 years those numbers speak for themselves. And yet ALERT persists with its conservation claims and volunteers and tourists flock to their operations. Let me be clear on this, I am all for successful tourism operations – but not when they redirect money from genuine conservation activities and not when the promises of conservation impact are nothing more than a thin marketing veneer.

The ‘excess’ lions from these breeding operations will have to go somewhere to relieve the bottleneck and if that destination is not a legitimate conservation area, where will that somewhere be?

The fear and, in some quarters, strongly held suspicion is that via some form of wildlife laundering system lions will find their way into one or more of the many lion breeding farms that serve canned lion hunting operations.

This would certainly not be conservation in any shape or form. In fact it would mean quite cynically that conservation money from volunteer internships, fees to walk with lions and donations is being diverted from really good conservation projects into operations of questionable ethical standing.
If this is not the case then only complete transparency and accountability for all the lions involved from cradle to grave will allay the growing disquiet of the conservation world. And even if such transparency is forthcoming, is it in the first place sensible to offer ultra-close encounters with big, dangerous animals. Attacks on humans and maulings have already occurred at Lion Encounter and quite possibly a real tragedy awaits. But that is another story.

Read the full article on the Africa Geographic website here

Read the full history of this highly controversial project here.

Friday 5 July 2013

Kazungula Bridge will be a game-changer

Mmegionline, 4July 2013
The governments of Botswana and Zambia have announced the commencement of the first stage of construction of the Kazungula Bridge across the Chobe River.
The importance of the bridge to the two countries and the SADC region cannot be gainsaid. When complete, the bridge will ensure that for the first time, the SADC region is connected by road. The Chobe River forms the only boundary between Botswana and Zambia and over the years, this has slowed down the movement of people and goods from the southern parts of the SADC region to the north.
The water boundary meant that besides the air, the alternative and popular transport link between Botswana and Zambia was through the ageing or unreliable ferries that were prone to breakdowns. This lead to a pile-up during peak periods when the number of trucks carrying goods to and from factories and ports of regional economic giant South Africa overwhelm the carrying capacity of the ferries. But with the construction of the bridge to replace the slow and unreliable ferries, things are likely to change for the better. The Chobe River is vital in the region because in the Kazungula-Kasane area, it straddles the border between Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Plans to build the vital bridge have been on the cards for approximately two decades. Initially, Zimbabwe was to be part of the project but because of its well-known economic and political problems, it was left out though it will benefit from the facility.
With loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), it can only be concluded that the bridge will be completed in the next five years. We hope that all stakeholders will come together and put all mechanisms in place to curb corruption and any form of theft that a project of this magnitude may attract. We hope that each and every stage of the project will be monitored and fully accounted for. It is also our hope that the best contractors will be awarded the project to complete it within time and budget. We are tired of losing billions to overnight contractors who dump our projects midway leaving shoddy work behind. We hope the JICA and AfDB will use their position and influence to ensure that they get value for their money.
Once completed, this bridge will make trade within the SADC region and beyond, more endurable and less expensive, as compared to the current situation in which truck drivers spend nights in queues waiting for the pontoons to ferry them across the Chobe River. Some of these trucks carry perishable goods destined for distant customers, and it is a nightmare for the drivers to watch days and nights pass before they can cross to the other side of the Chobe River. The construction of the bridge comes at a time when experts on trade have advised that Africa needs to invest in infrastructure for faster economic growth.
Since the project is going to attract migrant workers from many countries, we hope that residents around the Kazungula-Kasane area will take care of themselves and make the project a blessing instead of a curse.
Source: here

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Keeping Victoria Falls clean

From the June 2013 issue of the Zambezi Traveller. Click here to visit the Zambezi Traveller blog.

An important part of taking care of the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site is ensuring that the town and its surrounds are litter-free. The importance of proper litter disposal is highlighted in the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust’s conservation education programme, working with more than 1,000 schoolchildren annually to promote conservation.

In 2012 the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust decided to assist the town with keeping litter under control. A team was established, collecting rubbish from the main roads around the town six days a week. More than 2000 large bin bags have been collected since the project was initiated, making a significant difference to the town and its environment.

The Victoria Falls Rotatrians are now joining forces with the trust to expand this project and will be working with local partners in assisting with a recycling program. Both the trust and Rotary are inviting all Victoria Falls residents and businesses to get involved in this initiative.

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust

Download the latest issue of the Zambezi Traveller here.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Kariba cracks spark fears

Kariba Dam Cracks Send Fears of Looming Tragedy
Zambia Reports
June 28, 2013

Government panic over the cracking Kariba Dam wall has finally forced them to scout for a contractor to undertake the delicate process of refurbishment. The Kariba Dam wall has spotted some cracks and its deterioration could lead to loss of life and disrupt the power supply in the country. Energy minister Christopher Yaluma said government has finally gone shopping for a contractor in South Africa. Yaluma, who did not disclose the name of the company, admitted that the falling of the wall would be a huge catastrophe. He said the matter would be dealt with urgently to avert the crisis.

Source: Kariba Dam Cracks Send Fears of Looming Tragedy

Monday 1 July 2013

Zambezi River Sand-Bank Breeders

by Pete Roberts
From the Victoria Falls Guide 'archives' - from July 2011:
Migrating birds such as the African Skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris ) are arriving to breed on the freshly sculptured sand-banks which emerge from the receding Zambezi River. Despite the dangers of nesting on sand banks regularly trampled by hippo, predated by monitor lizards, and even disturbed by humans, skimmers and other birds such as lapwings and plovers return to successfully breed on the river each year.
The characteristic skimmer is an inter-Africa migrant, spending July to November on the Zambezi. A medium sized bird, long-winged and tern-like in flight, with brownish-black upperparts, white underneath and deeply forked tail, has a uniquely extended lower bill, which is noticeably longer than the upper mandible.
It has been estimated that nearly 1,500 skimmers breed along the river, representing 10% of the continent-wide population, conservatively estimated at just 15,000 birds. This highly significant percentage identifies the Zambezi as a key area of conservation importance for this enigmatic species.
Read more: Zambezi River Sand-Bank Breeders
Photo Credit: Victoria Falls Guide