More woes for the Selous as MoU signed for Stiegler’s Gorge dam and power plant

Within days of news breaking that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has approved the Tanzanian governments request to carve out a 200 square kilometres part of the worlds largest game reserve to establish a Uranium mining and processing facility, did news break overnight that the Rufiji Basin Development Authority had signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with Brazils Odebrecht International, a company known to develop hydro electric power facilities, including building huge dams.
The Tanzanian tourism industry is now getting increasingly worried that the planned power station at the Stieglers Gorge will irrevocably alter the reserves core tourism area to the worse with a very extensive area beyond the dam subject to being flooded by the reservoir lake, displacing significant animal populations from their present habitat.
It has also been ascertained through a source in Paris that UNESCO apparently is not aware of any application for approval of such a dramatic intervention in this World Heritage Site, which was launched back in 1982, when the then governments commitment to conservation was more than mere lip service and misleading statements.
The conservation and green lobby is already incensed over claims made by Tanzanian government officials about the allegedly minimal problems with Uranium mining, accusing the government to not just downplay risks but to hoodwink the public into believing that the toxicity of the extraction of Uranium and the processing before shipment was negligible.
Experts have warned of dire consequences for the health of workers, nearby villages, the game population finding their water sources increasingly poisoned and eventually the ocean where the rivers empty into carrying their toxic cargo of poisons.
Said a regular contributor from Dar es Salaam in a mail overnight: The Selous Game Reserve could be opened up for tourism way beyond what is being done now. It is the biggest wilderness area right now in Africa if not the world and has space for many more tourist ventures. Those would all create employment, earn the government park entrance fees, taxes and more. That is a very sustainable income source and it is not poisonous like mining. I think we are not being told the truth about the fallout in years to come. I think we deserve to know that truth and we shall try find our own experts to outline the short and long haul dangers to the Selous if that mining goes ahead. The companies involved poisoned their own back yards like in Russia and now they want to do the same here to us? It is not right. We are losing credibility in the world about conservation. Poaching is very bad, illegal logging is very bad, and now this after the Serengeti highway problems and the soda ash factory and the marine national park near Tanga also being targeted. This has to stop.
Be sure to watch this space for future updates on such developments affecting Tanzanias national parks and game reserves and the ongoing debates and raging arguments being advance by the promoters of progress and development and the defenders of nature and the environment.

6 Responses

  1. This is troubling indeed and very disappointing for those of us involved in Tanzanian tourism and interested in conservation, but UNESCO presumably must have balanced a number of interests and scientific reports before making any decisions. I know the country’s government is far from transparent, but UNESCO is not an ignorant body. On a personal note, I don’ like any of it, but I think we need more information before rushing to judgment.

  2. Could you maybe post your source for the news on the MoU being signed? I have been going through the local media available online and have not been able to find this story. Thanks!

    1. I believe the local media in Dar es Salaam in fact had a piece on this a day after I posted. As to revealing sources, that I never do in particular when I write about Tanzania as they are almost paranoid about repression and state reaction should they be outed – which would lead to most if not all of them instantly drying up.
      Thanks for reading my blog though.

  3. It is understandable that one does not reveal personal sources. However, as I have not been able to confirm your statement in the local media, I am a bit disappointed as I cannot use your information now. That’s too bad.

  4. Hi Wolfgang,

    I am an Interested &Affected Party (IAP) in terms of the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge development and would like to have a telephone conversation re my concerns. If convenient to you please furnish me with a telephone number so that we may talk.

    Many thanks,

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