Kilimanjaro's porters tipped on life savings

Porters taking tourists, mainly mountain climbers, to Mt. Kilimanjaro are amongst the lowest paid workers in the hospitality industry. 

Many of them end up with a payment Sh6,000 to Sh8,000 per day instead of the minimum $10 (Sh16,000) daily rate set by the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa).

Although they are not allowed to carry more than 25 kilogrammes on their way up to the mountain, which endangers their health, many of them are forced to carry more than 30 kgs, according to interviews made with them and other stakeholders in the sector.

In the wake of unreliable employment, the porters have now been advised to save whatever earnings they make in order to help them live better lives, especially after retiring from the task of carrying heavy luggage to the top of the mountain.

The call was made by the Kilimanjaro  regional manager of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Ms Delphina Masika, when speaking to porters during a meeting of their association. 

She said a saving culture was necessary to boost their economic lives instead of complaining that the government was not assisting them.

She called on them to consider joining pension schemes operated by the Fund which currently covers employees in the informal sector.

The NSSF regional manager’s suggestion was supported by the councillor for Longuo on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mr Raymond Mboya, who said by enrolling with the Fund, the porters would be assured of savings after ‘retiring’ from the tough job.

Three of the porters, Alex Lyimo, Cleopa Minja and Rumishaeli Mariki pleaded with the management of the Kilimanjaro National Park (Kinapa) to assist them in their struggle for a better working environment. They also requested Kinapa game rangers to stop intrusive security checks which demean them in the eyes of the public and foreign visitors.

According Mr Philip Mbise, the chairman of the Tanzania Porters Organisation which operates on Mt. Kilimanjaro, the body has 2,900 members although the number of those who are active is 2,100. He said many of them have complained of a poor working environments, including low pay.

Kinapa Chief Park Warden, Mr Erastus Lufungulo cautioned stakeholders in the tourism industry against turning into politicians, advising them instead, to direct their efforts in improving the performance of the sector.
Source: The Citizen, reported by Rehema Matowo from Moshi, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
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