ARUSHA, 14 February 2021 – The Tanzanian government has approved construction of a cable car on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest summit.
Although the project was first approved in May 2019 in an effort to boost tourists’ visits to Kilimanjaro by 50 percent, actual implementation of the project is far from certain.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the 19,341-foot peak which is also the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, attracted 50,000 tourists a year, roughly 35,000 of whom attempted the summit.
Mountain climbing groups have criticized the cable car plan, pointing to environmental concerns and societal challenges.
Without informing critics of what steps it had taken to address their concerns, the Tanzania government last December announced that the project would proceed.
A spokesperson for the Tanzania National Parks Authority Paul Banga has told reporters that approval of the project does not mean confirmation it will be built.
“We are waiting for instructions from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism before we start looking for investors,” Banga explained.
The cable car would facilitate travelers aged under 15 and above 50 to experience the beauty of the mountain.
Project watchers say they expect the cable car to travel through the scenic and popular route on the peak’s southern side known as Machame which attracts nearly half of all Kilimanjaro climbers, with its high success rate (85 percent for a seven-day climb).
About six pillars strong enough to carry 15 cable cars will be built along the route, with each cable car expected to carry six people on a 20-minute ride to the Shira Plateau, one of three volcanic cones located at about 12,000 feet.
There are big concerns among local workers and tour guides that jobs will be lost, including the bulk of revenue earned by porters, guides and climbing outfitters.