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Tanzanian driver guides call off strike

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Jun 30, 2010

(eTN) Sources from Tanzania have confirmed that the planned strike by driver guides and tour guides will be called off for the time being, after other stakeholders prevailed upon the Tanzania Tour Guide Association (TTGA) to consider the damage to the industry, should they go ahead.

TTGA had earlier in the year given notice to stakeholders like the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, the tour companies, the lodges, and camps in their cross hairs and governmental departments that they intended to go on strike over "appalling conditions" in some of the lodges and camps for drivers and guides.

One source in Arusha, known to this correspondent, added his own views: "Conditions in some places are very bad. Often there are no mosquito nets, we have to share rooms, the bathrooms stink, and the food is bad. We have told those managers to change things, but we are told that either there is no money for ‘such things’ or we are told to shut up ‘or else.’ At times clients ask why we are not fresh in the morning, and we have to be diplomatic. We are treated very well in some of the lodges, they have single rooms or twin rooms for us and offer good food and clean bathrooms, but there are some which just ignore us."

A leading stakeholder in Dar es Salaam also commented, saying a strike could only ever be a very last resort, while appealing to the lodge and camp operators to attend to the welfare of the drivers and guides. He added: "A strike now would cripple our recovery after the global crisis. In fairness, they (TTGA) gave a long notice, but maybe some camps and lodges need more time, but I think they know now that if they do not change that they will be singled out, and it will be bad for their business."

Another guide in Arusha also sent his comments as follows: "You know, even when clients invite us in some places to eat with them, and they pay for it, management there makes our life difficult. They try to keep us out of the dining and the bar, and at times our clients must insist strongly to have a drink with us in the evening or sit down for lunch or supper. I am not saying this is pure racism, but some of the managers have an agenda of their own. I have been told many times to stay out of the dining after being invited by my clients. Is their money for my meal not good? You see, we spend a lot of time with our clients, and when enough is enough, we can tell them a place is not good. We have started to tell our companies to stop booking clients in some places, because we sleep and eat badly there, but we will see."

Adds this correspondent with the experience from his days in top management of some of Kenya’s leading safari companies, the lodges and camps in the cross hairs of the driver guides really ought to improve these facilities, as a driver guide can make or break a safari experience by exposing such contempt towards their wellbeing... not something some of those otherwise fancied places would care to read subsequently on Facebook or TripAdvisor. At the same time, all compliments to some of the lodges and camps which have exceled in providing good accommodation, facilities, and meals to the driver guides and are, therefore, favorites on the safari circuit.

Tanzanian driver guides call off strike
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