TANZANIA GOVERNMENT YIELDS TO PRESSURE OVER SERENGETI HIGHWAY
News received late yesterday indicate that the Tanzanian government has backed down in the face of growing global criticism and opposition to their plans to construct a highway across the Serengeti, by assuring the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris that government will seek an alternative Southern route around the Serengeti to bring road access to rural communities and leave the Serengeti park roads under the administration of TANAPA and for tourism purposes only.
It was here at eTN that in May last year the news were broken initially of plans by the Tanzanian government to construct a highway across the migration routes of the big herds of wildebeest and zebras, which subsequently developed into a global ‘anti Serengeti Highway’ movement, spearheaded by ‘SaveTheSerengeti.Org’, and supported by a Facebook campaign now having over 41.780 individual and institutional followers, besides which a petition campaign was running alongside it, which had promised to actively decampaign Tanzania as a tourism destination, should the highway plans go ahead.
The turnabout of the Tanzanian government is notable and must be applauded, although it came late and only in the face of direct and often severe and candid criticism voiced by visiting heads of state, governmental delegations and diplomatic missions.
The full text of the letter by the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, dated 22nd June 2011, is displayed below for reference by readers (sadly ‘eaten again by WordPress – do you even bother?)
, all of whom are however asked to remain watchful and alert, as other plans by the Tanzanian government like the Lake Natron Soda Ash Plant, plans to commercially exploit the Eastern Arc Mountains through logging and mining, the construction of a port at the Tanga Marine National Park site and to build a hydro electric power plant at Stiegler’s Gorge / Selous Game Reserve are still continuing. Meanwhile though, kudos to the Tanzanian government for their public departure from their highway plans and thanks galore to all who responded over the last 14 months to this correspondent’s breaking news story, which exposed the plans initially and whipped up a global storm of opposition – Asanteni Sana.