Tanzania government yields to pressure over Serengeti highway


(eTN) – News received late yesterday indicates that the Tanzanian government has backed down in the face of growing global criticism and opposition to their plans to construct a highway across the Serengeti. The government has assured the UNESCO World Heritage Center in Paris that government will seek an alternative southern route around the Serengeti to bring road access to rural communities and leave the Serengeti park roads under the administration of TANAPA and for tourism purposes only.

It was here at eTN that in May last year the news was broken initially of plans by the Tanzanian government to construct a highway across the migration routes of the big herds of wildebeest and zebras. This subsequently developed into a global “anti-Serengeti highway” movement, spearheaded by SaveTheSerengeti.org and supported by a Facebook campaign now having over 41,780 individual and institutional followers. In addition, a petition campaign was running alongside it, which had promised to actively decampaign Tanzania as a tourism destination, should the highway plans go ahead.

The turnabout of the Tanzanian government is notable and must be applauded, although it came late and only in the face of direct and often severe and candid criticism voiced by visiting heads of state, governmental delegations, and diplomatic missions.

Concerned individuals and groups, however, are cautioned to be watchful and alert, as other plans by the Tanzanian government, like the Lake Natron Soda Ash Plant, to commercially exploit the Eastern Arc Mountains through logging and mining, the construction of a port at the Tanga Marine National Park site, and to build a hydro-electric power plant at Stiegler’s Gorge/Selous Game Reserve are still continuing. Meanwhile though, kudos to the Tanzanian government for their public departure from their highway plans and thanks galore to all who responded over the last 14 months to this correspondent’s breaking news story, which exposed the plans initially and whipped up a global storm of opposition – Asanteni Sana (thank you to many).