You may be following the very controversial Serengeti Highway proposal. Below is a small summery …
Briefing Document Background
• Road proposed to run through the Serengeti, from Arusha to Musoma.
• Strongly opposed by many groups, including environmentalists, scientists, tourists and tour operators – including TATO and several members of ETOG.
• Suggestion that the project is to be funded by the Tanzanian government and members of mining and industrial groups, particularly since the withdrawal of support from the Indian government and the World Bank .
This coincides with the proposal for a soda ash extraction plant on Lake Natron, and newly discovered oil fields in Uganda.
• Investigating the possibility of alternative routes to the south of the park or through Kenya has been suggested. Both the German government and the World Bank have offered to finance the research and development of this.
• EIA conducted by the Tanzanian Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Tanzanian National Roads Agency. Draft submitted October 2010 after the decision to build the road had been passed.
• Despite widespread opposition the current proposal is still going ahead, with markers already being laid down. It is expected that the road will carry 800 vehicles (mostly trucks) per day by 2015, and 3000 vehicles per day (one every 30 seconds) by 2035.
Reasons for the Road
The stance of Tanzanian Government
• Will help the population of north western Tanzania to become more connected to the rest of the country.
• Was a 2005 election pledge the government is determined to keep.
• Environmental damage kept to a minimum by leaving 40km stretch unpaved through the park.
• Will provide the spur for essential economic development in the region o The road will be a key to providing transport links to a proposed soda ash extraction plant on the shores of Lake Natron.
• Alternative routes and the option of building a raised highway considered too expensive.
• Opposition to the road labelled as “unpatriotic”.
Reasons for Opposition
• No EIA conducted until after plans were passed.
• Huge disruption and damage to wildlife:
o Through disruption to natural migration routes; of wildebeest and elephants in particular.
o Through disturbances to the sensitive habitat of rhino.
o Through human interference and easy access for poachers.
o Through the introduction and spread of diseases and invasive weeds.
o Loss of habitat through disruption to grazing patterns would mean losing an important “carbon sink”.
• Loss of revenue through tourism:
o Likely to lose UNESCO World Heritage Status
o Loss of income and employment through less tourists – park entry, employment for park staff, income for local people, taxation revenue. This will lead to a general negative impact on the Tanzanian economy.
• Loss of foreign aid due to environmentally insensitive practice.
• International mining and industry companies helping fund the road have little interest in the well-being of local people.
• Will this pave the way for the loss of further World Heritage Sites?
Sources & Further Information
The Observer, 27th March 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/27/serengeti-highway-national-park
eTurbo News, 1st April 2011. http://www.eturbonews.com/22099/tanzanian-presidents-motives-serengeti-highway-becoming-clear
The Ecologist, 13th August 2010. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/795953/tanzania_urged_to_accept_world_bank_funding_of_alternative_serengeti_highway_route.html
Intrepid letter to Tanzanian Ministry of Tourism – 24th March 2011 ? TATO Press release – March 2011 ? Serengeti Watch – http://www.savetheserengeti.org/the-need-for-serengeti-watch/#axzz1IZgi33q8
Tanzanian government’s EIA executive summary available here: http://www.savetheserengeti.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/eia-part-i.pdf