Hare brained projects 1 – Environment Nil


(Posted 07th June 2015)

There is some speculation that during the just concluded Summit of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects, commonly referred to as the Coalition of the Willing, the issue of Tanzania’s stubborn refusal to accept and ratify the 2006 Environmental and Natural Resources Protocol was discussed in private between the three heads of state of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Kenya and Uganda in fact already ratified the protocol some time ago, creating a precedent for one of the East African Community member states suddenly refusing to do the same.

Rwanda was not part of the initial negotiations and discussions on this particular protocol as the country was not a member of the EAC at the time and upon joining agreed to accept existing protocols.

It is understood that Kenya and Uganda have referred the matter now to the upcoming Council of Ministers meeting where a legally explosive situation awaits, as hard to unravel as the Gordian Knot.

Tanzania’s refusal is by common consensus rooted in the case brought against them over the hugely controversial plan to build a highway across the Serengeti’s migration routes which for all intent and purpose would destroy one of the world’s great natural wonders. Other pundits however have also agreed that equally contentious projects along the ‘Corridor of Destruction’ including plans to destroy the breeding grounds of the East African flamingo flocks on Lake Natron – similar to the Serengeti a transboundary ecosystem – in favour of establishing a soda ash mining operation, could have led to the hardening stand of the government in Dar, wary of more cases being brought against them in the East African Court of Justice.

Reasons advanced by Dar that the protocol contained contravening clauses to the Common Market Protocol were swiftly dismissed by experts from the other member states as such observations would have been made and dealt with during the discussions and prior to signing the deal in 2006 and putting the protocol to member states for ratification.

The dispute further isolates Tanzania from the rest of the East African Community members which two years ago, faced with constant obstacles being placed in their way vis a vis regional cooperation and fasttracking of projects by Tanzania, then formed the Coalition of the Willing. Immediate progress on all fronts was for all purposes astonishing, when after ditching the habitual objectors the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya established a range of trilateral projects, including but not limited to a new Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali and Juba.

No change is expected in Tanzania’s position at this stage, considering the country is rapidly descending into election mode as the big wigs of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party are slugging it out to become the official CCM candidate and going by past experience may it take a while before a new government then begins to attend to such pending matters.

Meanwhile is the appeal by the Tanzanian government against the ruling against them by the East African Court of Justice over the Serengeti Highway Project ongoing, with the latest legal argument by Tanzania referring precisely to the absence of a ratification of the protocol and therefore the court not having any jurisdiction over the case. Watch this space for future updates as the outcome will have a significant impact on transboundary conservation and tourism affecting both Tanzania and Kenya.

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