Opposition against Serengeti Highway prompts appointment of advisory task force


(eTN) – Information was received from Dar es Salaam last week, that the continued growing opposition around the globe against the planned routing of a highway across the Serengeti has “disconcerted if not unsettled” the powers that be who slowly seem to understand the strength of the sentiments as well as the substance of counterproposals made.

Opponents, comprising the world’s top tourism experts, environmentalists, zoologists, conservationists, zoological societies, NGOs, and tens of thousands of individuals, have not just said “Njet, No, Nein, Hapana” to the proposed road, as often alleged by hothead sycophants within the Tanzanian establishment, but have offered a viable, shorter, cheaper and more effective route around the southern tip of the Serengeti, which would reach 2 million more Tanzanians and still meet the objective to connect the very same remote part of the country to the major urban centres.

President Kikwete has reportedly last week appointed an advisory task force, and while little is known about its composition and members, or how they were sourced, it can only be hoped that they will look at all the facts at hand and base their recommendations on the strength of logical argument and not along political considerations or out of sycophancy.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism also declined to provide the names and background of members, apparently to shield them from any lobbying or influence peddling, while critics promptly used this omission to make more noise about the appointments not being transparent, possibly driven by a desired outcome and borderline legal, as such group appointments should have been “gazetted” in the national papers of record.

That all said, it seems that there is now finally some movement over the routing of the road, undoubtedly fueled by the stiff opposition against Tanzania from abroad and the wider region, including strong representations by the Kenyan government and the East African Community headquarters. However, inside Tanzania, while the media have thankfully picked up the story and delved a little further into it, much opposition has been effectively muzzled ahead of the upcoming elections, and individuals have openly spoken of their fear to be identified as opponents of the routing – though not the road in general – and then branded anti-government and anti-president with potentially very serious consequences.