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Intimidation at Pemba Island, Tanzania

By doina — last modified Jan 17, 2008 10:49 AM

Published: 2008-01-17 10:49:08
Countries: Tanzania

Please be aware that in recent months a number of yachts visiting Pemba Island, Tanzania, have been harrassed by the Zanzibar Revenue Board. Pemba is a beautiful island and well worth a visit. We have been there on many occasions and were harassed on 27th December, 2007, for the first time ever. We were anchored in Njao Gap in the north when the ZRB boarded our vessel. We had all our papers in order and refused to pay any taxes or levies that the ZRB claimed we must pay. They could not produce any documentation to support their demands for money and advised us that they would return the next day by 0800 hours with papers. When they had not approached us by 0930, we weighed anchor and proceeded south. We were immediately pursued by a patrol boat and ordered to return to our anchorage, however we were navigating a narrow gap and advised that we would talk with them once outside the gap in deeper water. After some discussion, they pulled a gun. We immediately took out a camera to take a photo, however the man put the gun away. We refused to turn back and the patrol boat returned to Njao Gap.

We have since reported the incident to the British High Commission and other authorities and we wrote to the Commissioner of Zanzibar Revenue Board to report our treatment at the hands of his officers. The Acting High Commissioner has also taken up the matter with officials at the highest level. We urge visitors NOT to be put off, however make sure you have your papers in order and report any incidents if you are approached with demands for money. Remember that, whilst Pemba and Zanzibar are part of Tanzania, you must take a transire from the mainland ports (Dar, Tanga, Mtwara) when you enter either place. Mkoani remains the most friendly of the ports in Pemba. Also you must go to Immigration and have your passport stamped, even if you have come across from mainland Tanzania. In addition the whole of the west coast of Pemba is now a designated Marine Park, managed by PECCA and the fees of $20 per boat per visit and $5 per person per day must be paid at Mesali Island.

Eric Toyer & Lynne Sands, SV Amarula