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Tanzania News

Future plans of Serengeti highway unclear

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Jan 14, 2011

(eTN) - The visit of the Tanzanian Vice President last week to the Serengeti – sold to the public as a private holiday – on closer scrutiny provided added clues as to the government’s anxiety over the intense pressure from around the world to cancel the northern highway route or else face cuts in aid budgets, project support, and risk being de-campaigned as an eco-friendly tourism destination. It is understood that Dr. Bilal was briefed by park staff during his private holiday on the controversy over the highway route across the migration paths, and in particular he was alerted to the negative impact of a highway across the park vis-a-vis the survival of the great herds and tourism arrival numbers and revenues.

The founding father of Tanzania, the late "Mwalimu" Julius Nyerere, had made firm policy commitments towards maintaining the Serengeti ecosystem, but his political "grand children" seem to have conveniently forgotten about his teachings while looking to maximize profits from mining, which the road would open up and make possible.

Officially, the government in Dar es Salaam has not yet changed position, ever careful NOT to give the political opposition and opponents of the plans ammunition over "u-turns," but signs are slowly emerging, as predicted here before, that the powers that be have finally started to understand what is at risk should they push the highway construction through.

A further EIA – environmental impact assessment – is also still underway, and the minister for tourism has already indicated that whatever results the EIA would present, should be accepted, even if it would stop the project altogether.

Future plans of Serengeti highway unclear
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