ANTI SERENGETI HIGHWAY COALITION CELEBRATES LEGAL VICTORY
The appellate division of the East African Court of Justice has dismissed an attempt by the Government of Tanzania to question the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice, to which environmentalists and the conservation fraternity had taken their case, trying to block it from building a highway across the park.
The long awaited decision now firmly gives the EACJ the liberty to not just hear the principal case but also rule on it, a situation the government in Dar es Salaam feared as the justices of the EACJ are not subject to the usual pressures governments apply to their own legal systems to get their way.
The ruling stated that being a member of the East African Community, Tanzania had to subject herself to the rules and regulations in place, including recognizing the jurisdiction of the court itself and that the case raised by the plaintiffs had merit and should be heard. A total of 6 specific objections filed by the Attorney General of Tanzania were thrown out in the judgment, leaving the political establishment keen to build a road across Lake Natron and through the Serengeti to new mining areas reeling.
The main case is now expected to take off in full session just as soon as the court administration will set a date, giving friends of the Serengeti and the global group Stop the Serengeti Highway new momentum and hope that the plans to build a highway, albeit not tarmacked as conceded already by government, may now never be built at all. The plaintiffs had cited EAC treaty provisions on environmental issues touching on transboundary ecosystems, as the Serengeti / Masai Mara qualify under, and the case is all the more interesting as Tanzania has dilly dallied over other environmental laws the East African Legislative Assembly has been proposing to pass, again aimed to wrest jurisdiction from the East African Community and its more balanced views on development as opposed to the environmental havoc predicted over some of Tanzanias hair brained schemes in search of either quick money or else out of political obligations over promises made ahead of the last elections to mining companies and mega corporations vis a vis Uranium mining inside the Selous Game Reserve and generally about the Corridor of Destruction planned with highways, harbours, railways, mining and logging, as amply written about here in the past.
Notably was the Stop the Serengeti Highway movement, now turned into a proper NGO, started following breaking news stories here on eTurboNews, back in May 2010, that the Tanzanian government had internally decided to build a highway across the Serengetis most fragile parts, cutting the annual migration off from their grazing grounds in the neighbouring Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, before bedevelling the conservation fraternity and green lobby as enemies of Tanzania and enemies of progress as perceived by the beneficiaries of the mega deals. Visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/STOP-THE-SERENGETI-HIGHWAY/125601617471610 for more information on the opposition towards the highway construction, and the constructive proposals for a more southerly routing around the park.
For now though it is joy and satisfaction that the East African Court of Justice has upheld the law and will in due course hear the principal case, reports about which will as usual appear right here. Watch this space.
As much as this is good news, it is not the end of the fight.
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