Serengeti highway project still under consideration


(eTN) – Signs are emerging that the hugely controversial plans for a highway across the Serengeti National Park may still be under consideration, according to remarks made last weekend by the new tourism minister in Dar es Salaam. His former boss, while he was assistant minister in the same ministry, was a known parrot of the rather unsustainable government position that the highway must be built because it was promised, and shown to the door by her own constituents who were fed up with her shenanigans and opted to select another candidate to stand for the ruling CCM party.

Opposition to the highway plans is causing concerns among Tanzania’s government officials as development funds and donations may start to dry up following a spirited campaign across the world, in both the social media, as well as through direct contact of leading conservation organizations, zoological societies, UN organizations, and concerned governments. UNESCO has already formally warned that going ahead with the highway plans across the main migration route of the 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras may cause the World Heritage Status for the Serengeti to be withdrawn, which would be a huge blow to the marketing efforts of the Tanzanian tourism industry, which has been using the accreditation to promote safaris to the Serengeti and other parks on the northern circuit. Other organizations of global renown which have joined the crusade are IUCN, the WWF, the AWF, as well as leading conservationists from around the world.

Hence, the latest statements from Dar were greeted with some cautious optimism when it was learned that the environmental studies were still ongoing and, if found to be negative to the project, it may be shifted or abandoned altogether.

Conservation groups have, in the meantime, also launched a challenge in the East African Court in Arusha to compel the Tanzanian government to halt their plans, but the case is not due to be heard any time soon, although it was learned that the plaintiffs may first settle for an injunction to stop any action from taking place before the main case has been determined.