(eTN) – The anger by the Tanzanian government could hardly be concealed over the ruling against their ill-fated plans to build a highway across the Serengeti, when the announcement was made earlier in the week that the matter would be appealed at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in Arusha.
The appeal is also a clear signal that the government in Dar es Salaam has not learned a single lesson and that their appeasing letter to UNESCO earlier in the year, assuring the world body that there would be no road, must be taken with a grain of salt, or in this case with a ton of salt.
Environmental organizations had taken the matter to the only court in the region seen as unbiased and unlikely to bow to the pressures from Dar, and true to their calling, the judges sided with the plaintiffs and threw out the objections of the Tanzanian government, which had tried to have the case dismissed.
A panel of the appeals bench is now expected to be constituted shortly to look into the decision of their colleagues and either uphold the earlier decision, which many observers feel is entirely in line with East African legislation, or else succumb to the increasing pressures brought by the powers that be in Tanzania, allowing them to go ahead and do as they please, as if they own the environment and can ride roughshod over it at will.
Environmental groups and conservation groups across the region have taken the initial decision as a signal that the EACJ is indeed independent of the usual power games other courts are often thought to be subjected to in cases of sensitive nature, and more and more such court action against governmental impunity can now be expected to be brought in Arusha, when failing in the respective member states.
Government officials were reported to have been seething with anger, and true to their nature, resorted to name calling in conversations overheard by sources, many of them within government circles and yet totally opposed to seeing their country’s pristine environment and biodiversity being sacrificed on the altar of “progress and development,” to phrases regularly used to browbeat public opinion and whitewash the potential dangers and environmental degradation and pollution associated with some of the pet projects of the powers that be.