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Finally DAR succumbs to pressure, Drops Serengeti road plan

Discussion in 'Biashara, Uchumi na Ujasiriamali' started by BabuK, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. BabuK

    BabuK JF-Expert Member

    Jun 26, 2011
    Joined: Jul 30, 2008
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    Tanzania has finally surrendered its earlier plans to construct a 53-kilometres tarmac road across the Serengeti National Park, thanks to the pressure from both local and international environmental activists.

    But the dramatic move comes as a senior Cabinet minister vowed this week in Dodoma that the project would go ahead as per original plan, no matter how much voices are raised against it.
    Professor Jumanne Maghembe, Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives told The Guardian on Sunday in Dodoma last -week that there was no way the project could be halted, because it was a government’s constructive decision to have the road in place.
    The minister, a forestry expert, said: “There has been a misconception on this proposed project, most of the groups opposing it skip key points and therefore portray a wrong picture”.
    He added: “Tanzania has always done its best to protect its wildlife, this proposed road is in line with that spirit as we intend to have a huge traffic on the road shifted from the current rough road which passes almost in the middle of the park to the northern part,” said Maghembe who once served as Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources.
    But as Maghembe stuck to his guns, the British Broadcasting Corporation on its website reported that the government’s controversial plans to build a tarmac road across the Serengeti National Park have been scrapped after warnings that it could devastate wildlife.
    The Tanzanian government planned a two-lane highway across the Park to connect Lake Victoria with coastal ports.
    But studies showed it could seriously affect animals such as wildebeest and zebra, whose migration is regarded as among the wonders of the natural world.
    The government confirmed the road across the park will remain gravel.
    According to the BBC, in a letter sent to the World Heritage Centre in Paris, the Department of Natural Resources and Tourism says the 50km (30-mile) section of the road across the park will "continue to be managed mainly for tourism and administrative purposes, as it is now".
    The government is considering an alternative route for a major trade highway that would run to the south of the park.
    This would avoid areas of high conservation value, and - although a longer route - would bring the opportunities afforded by a modern transport link to more people.
    Last year, a group of scientists warned that the proposed road across the park could bring the number of wildebeest in the park, estimated at about 1.3 million, down to 300,000.
    Collisions between animals and traffic would be unavoidable, they said.
    And with a corridor on either side of the road taken out of the hands of the park authorities and given to the highways agency, fencing would almost certainly result, blocking movement of the herds.
    If wildlife were damaged, they warned, that could also affect the local economy, in which tourism plays a major role.
    Three weeks ago, this newspaper published a story expressing fresh fears from domestic and international environmentalists and wildlife conservation experts over the proposed 480 Kilometres tarmac highway to the Lake Victoria regions.
    The most disputed part of the planned 53-kilometre tarmac road, which would pass through the northern part of Serengeti Park.
    But, it wasn’t clear whether Minister Maghembe wasn’t aware about the government’s decision to drop its original plan to construct a 53km tarmac road across Serengeti National Park.
    The Minister was reacting to the story published by The Guardian on Sunday three weeks ago.
    Responding to the critics of the project, Professor Maghembe added: “None of the anti-campaigners for the road has pointed out that the exiting rough road had a big number of traffic passing through Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Parks, with a length of more than 240 Kilometres had bad effects on wildlife, a problem which needed to be addressed and solved, why do they skip this fact.”
    The National Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 allows some activities to be carried out inside the parks but those activities in any way should not interfere with the General Management plan of the particular Park which among other things covers curving areas (where animals give births) as well as migration ways.
    Available information within government source suggest that most of development partners – who contribute to development projects were against the proposed road threatened to withdraw their financial assistance for 2011/2012 if the project was to go ahead.
    'Wonder of nature'
    The researchers described the Serengeti as "a rare and iconic example of an ecosystem driven by a large mammal migration".
    That annual north-to-south trek involves about 1.5 million animals, including wildebeest and zebra.
    More than a million wildebeest live in the Serengeti.
    As the animals travel, they dump vast quantities of urine and dung across the land, fertilising plant growth, while the trampling of hooves also prevents bush from over-growing the grassland.
    An impact assessment compiled for the government confirmed the expected impact on migration, adding that the decline of wildebeest and zebra would have a knock-on effect on predators such as lions and cheetahs.
    These are among the animals that tourists come to see
    Scientists also warned that the road could bring invasive plant species or unfamiliar diseases into the park, a World Heritage Site.
    Last year, the World Heritage Committee expressed its "utmost concern" about the "potentially irreversible damage" that the highway could bring.
    Environmental campaigners have welcomed the government's decision, with the organisation Serengeti Watch saying: "A battle has been won".
    However, they warned that the region faces a number of other threats, including roads around the park and poaching.