NAIROBI (AFP) – Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday (April 6) inaugurated a 24-kilometre around the country’s tanzanite mines to prevent smuggling of the precious violet-blue stones, which are unique to the East African country.
Magufuli in September ordered the army to build the wall around the mines, located in the Mererani hills near Mount Kilimanjaro.
Several metres high, the mustard-yellow wall has only one entrance, which is secured by the army. It cost 1.8 million euros (S$2.9 million), according to official figures.
“Before the construction of this wall, there was a lot of tanzanite being lost, about 40 per cent of all production,” Magufuli said during a ceremony transmitted on national television, referring to miners smuggling out the gems.
He highlighted a 2017 decision that from now on, the wholesale of tanzanite must be carried out under the control of the Tanzanian Central Bank inside the new wall. Prior to this decision, tanzanite was sold in Arusha and Nairobi.
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