GOVERNMENT IS LYING TO US OVER PLANS FOR LAKE NATRON, SERENGETI
Regular sources from Dar es Salaam and Arusha have insisted that the government is actively misleading the public over their true intent of constructing a soda ash plant at Lake Natron and the required road and rail links to the coast. President Kikwete last week talked to journalists and he singled out the Serengeti highway issue when he spoke of false and antipatriotic reporting. Why would he chose that topic? The Tanzanian governments own study shows how they expect traffic even on a gravel road to grow into thousands of vehicles a day. Can you even believe that at such a time they could resist the demands for tarmacking such a road?
They want the road because of the mining concessions beyond the Serengeti and towards Lake Victoria. And for the soda ash factory they are planning they need a rail link like the one from Magadi to join the RVR network to the coast in Kenya. And when the road and rail is at Lake Natron, does anyone believe them that they will not use the shortest route across the Serengeti to Lake Victoria and their new planned port in Musoma? The presidents mouth pieces are constantly on about the soda ash plant, his administration is mistreating and duping people at Mwambani and they are trying to secretly manufacture a supportive EIA by excluding key stakeholders and then peddle it like we told you, no harm is done. Why, you tell me, should we believe them one word. They have an agenda, and it shows here and there when they drop hints or speak unguarded but their intention for our parks and environment is very sinister one of them wrote following an exchange of information and opinions over the news last weekend that the Trade and Industry minister had reportedly revived talks with potential investors, inspite of the area in question being a RAMSAR Site and the existing EIAs all recommending that a wide area around the flamingo breeding grounds be left alone or else risk the extinction of the birds.
Momentum is now also visibly gaining speed in regard of the Mwambani port plans, where a global coalition is building up, similar to the Stop the Serengeti Highway campaign which has been hugely successful and driven government functionaries into the defensive, being confronted abroad about this wherever they go. No one is against expanding Tanga port, the way it is, in fact it is underutilized a lot. Having a modern railway run from Tanga to Lake Victoria is also not bad, as long as it avoids biodiversity hotspots and ecologically sensitive areas, inside and outside national parks and reserves. The government always makes us look as anti progress, to be denying the wananchi jobs and development. That is another lie. We support progress and development but with due care and consideration for the long term impact on the environment. Mining needs water and in semi arid areas, where is that coming from. Mining also can seriously poison the surrounding area and water sources, like in the case of plan to mine Uranium inside the Selous Game Reserve. What we say it be careful, dont rush, once the environment is poisoned you cannot reverse that fallout so prevent it.
It is clear that this controversy is not going to be resolved any time soon but with one court case now pending at the East African court of justice over the Tanzanian governments right, or not right, to build a highways, gravel or not, across the Serengeti, there is now scope following an appellate division decision that the EACJ is competent and permitted to hear such cases that more suits are brought against such plans in Arusha, after activists and conservationists have come to realize that the Tanzanian judiciary may just be a shade too susceptible to pressures from above. Watch this space as more news become available, often smuggled out of Tanzania via third parties to prevent detection of sources and the predicable brutal onslaught on them known from previous cases.