Zanzibar — Security forces as well as fire and rescue brigade in collaboration with residents of Unguja South have managed to put out a fire which had started on the western part of Jozani Forest Reserve, the only national park in Zanzibar.
The fire is suspected to have been ignited by illegal honey harvesters in the park. The inferno razed 17 hectares out of 5,000 hectares making up the national park.
Zanzibar’s Second Vice- President, Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi, visited the scene of the incident to assess destruction caused by the fire in the unique park, famous for its rate flora and fauna.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Zanzibar, Mr Afan Othman Maalim, told Amb. Iddi that efforts by the security forces and residents of neighbouring villages had helped to put down the fire.
“The fact that the affected area is somehow wet has also helped to contain the fire from spreading to other areas. We are glad that it did not destroy large trees,” the PS stated.
He added that water catchment areas in the forest reserve ought to be protected since they provide water for irrigation to farmers in Cheju valley.
Speaking after he was briefed of the situation, Amb. Iddi directed the ministry of agriculture to work with authorities in Unguja South to deal with illegal honey harvesters, who have been responsible for environmental degradation of the park.
He praised the security forces for working with the people in the area to contain the inferno, before it spread to the rest of the park and cause more damage.
Speaking earlier, the Head of Fire and Rescue Brigade in Unguja South, Mr Shaaban Ramadhan Ali, complained that the unit lacked proper equipment to perform its activities.