Aviation news: Airstrip closed by Tanzanian authorities


(eTN) – A regular source from Arusha passed information over the weekend that the airstrip serving Klein’s Camp has been closed by the authorities. “There is more than meets the eye” said the source in a phone conversation, adding “there were these issues with the manager of that camp being wanted by police when tusks had disappeared from a dead elephant found nearby, and then there are people in Tanzania who might even want to close that camp for being too near to the Kenyan border. The Bologonja border crossing, as you know, remains closed for commercial traffic between Kenya and Tanzania, and there are hardliners who would best like to put a big fence and throw away the keys.”

This part of the Serengeti is the transit route for many of the wildebeest returning from their annual migration into Kenya’s Masai Mara, and huge columns of animals can be seen annually when making their way back in to the Serengeti while moving south again to the low grass plains between Ngorongoro and Serengeti. The area is also earmarked as a transit corridor for a planned highway across the park, itself a hugely divisive and controversial project, which has brought the Tanzanian government and international organizations like UNESCO, WWF, AWF, IUCN, IFAW, and others head to head with their pro and con arguments.

Said another Arusha source on demand of strict confidentiality: “Some people in the security organ[ization]s have tried to explain the closure is in the interest of national security, but we all know that is a pure smoke screen for some ulterior motives and machinations behind the scenes. What national security issues trouble us along the common border with Kenya I wonder and are there not mechanisms to deal with such through the EAC headquarters? Many of my colleagues in the tourism sector are asking the same things, but like with the highway question, raising such matters openly can land you in jail here in Tanzania. We suspect there is either a conflict of interest with some bigshots, or attempted extortion, but the reasons being leaked to us are not holding water.”

Airlines regularly flying to the strip were not immediately ready to comment on the development, as one aviation source said: “This is a bit sensitive and we cannot openly argue with security organ[ization]s, but we will make inquiries and see if this can be resolved amicably.”