In response to allegations made by protestors concerned about the eco-system in Zambia, Danny Bryer, the director of revenue management, sales, and marketing for Protea Hotels issued the following statement:
“Protea Hotels acknowledges the concerns raised around a proposed Protea Hotels development in the Chiawa region of Zambia. Given our established commitment to the environment and communities in which we operate, we fully understand and support the need of the public and media to raise these questions. Protea Hotels is, therefore, keen to engage in open dialogue to satisfy any queries.
“The issue, as it has been reported in recent media coverage, is not, however, factually correct. For the sake of clarity, we would like to stress the following points:
• A recent media article states that of 15 traditional leaders in the Chiawa Region, 12 have signed a petition against the development.
• This is not correct.
• These traditional leaders do not exist in the Chiyaba Chiefdom. There is only one recognized authority, namely Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Chiyaba. Neither she nor her headmen have ever signed any document opposing the construction of the Protea Hotel in Chiawa. Through her legal counsel, she has issued a statement supporting the due process and diligence being undertaken by Protea Hotels.
• The site acquired for development is outside the National Park, albeit within a wider game management area.
• Written submissions were made 18 months ago, and Protea Hotels has consulted with all stakeholders including the local community who to date have only voiced support for the project.
• The Zambian government has and continues to be consulted and involved at every stage of planning.
• Construction has not begun, and Protea Hotels will not proceed until it has clear guidelines from the Environmental Council.
• It should also be noted that the ecologically-sensitive Mana Pools is in Zimbabwe, and the Protea Hotels proposed development is in Zambia.
• To date, Protea Hotels is the only operator in the lower Zambezi working to complete a full Environmental Impact Assessment and is lobbying the Zambian government to ensure all developments in the area comply with the same environmental requirements we are following in order to comprehensively understand the environmental impact in the wider area.
• Protea Hotels is committed to a long-term future in Zambia and as such, is dedicated to ensuring the longevity of our business for generations to come, through responsibly managing our impact on the environment, our employees, and the communities in which we operate.
“Additionally, we invite any member of the media or concerned environmental groups to tour the site, engage with the local community, and to see for themselves that the appropriate duty of care to the environment and surrounding community is being undertaken.”