STIEGLER’S GORGE / SELOUS HYDRO PLANS TRUE AFTER ALL
In a startling development were news, broken here some weeks ago, confirmed today in the Tanzanian media, that indeed the plans from the 1970’s to build a hydro electric dam and power plant at Stiegler’s Gorge in the Selous were to be dusted off and revived. The Selous is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the third threatened more recently by politically inspired developments in Tanzania, alongside the Stone Town in Zanzibar over a disputed hotel project and the Serengeti over the hugely controversial highway plans right across the main migration route of the big herds of wildebeest and zebra.
At the time of breaking the story this correspondent was called names and for all practical purposes a liar, but this report http://www.dailynews.co.tz/home/?n=18149&cat=home in a leading Tanzanian newspaper finally does confirm that something has been afoot already when the story broke and that the reactions then were probably caused by anger and frustrations how eTN had once again gotten hold of details, by the way ahead of the mainstream media. Tanzania’s government has become notorious of shrouding such plans and project in utmost secrecy and the local media, far from being able to report freely, often complain quietly – most recently at the EAC Media Summit in Nairobi – of being muzzled as government tries to suppress the extend to opposition to controversial projects, which while ‘sold’ on the lines of benefits to the country and jobs for the people often really only bring profits to few, as is alleged with the Serengeti highway project where mining companies and politicians are said to be the true ‘beneficiaries’. The ‘leak’ at the time also shows that there is opposition to such plans within government circles, and that they are ready to get the information out, albeit often via multiple waypoints, to avoid being detected. Not quite a ‘WikiLeaks’ scale but good enough to alert the conservation fraternity and begin to mobilise a well argued and formulated counter position in order to save the Selous, similar to the Facebook and related campaigns of ‘Stop the Serengeti Highway.
Watch this space.