SERENGETI COUNCIL DEFERS SIGNING OF GRUMETI DEAL
It was learned from a source in Arusha that the Serengeti District Council has after all not signed a joint venture agreement with Grumeti Reserves of American businessman Paul Tudor Jones, causing consternation and frustration amongst the companys executives but at the same time raising hopes that now that this is out in the open maybe there can be a broader discussion and the public can find out who is to be the main beneficiary or beneficiaries of the proposed deal, what is the core issue of the joint venture and what rights the investor will get and how the communities, the people are going to benefit long term according to the source. It was also said the public should know all details and not get the impression that this is a deal between some individuals and that company.
Grumeti Reserves has of late been in the media over a range of allegations, including mistreatment of staff and more recently the conduct of their game wardens but has mainly been in the cross hairs of the environmental lobby for their plans to build an international airport, previously called a monstrosity of the highest order by another regular contributor from Tanzania.
Grumeti Reserves own and operate three upmarket safari lodges in the wider Grumeti area and, while having all required operating licenses and permits they have apparently been dealing with the Serengeti District Council on the basis of verbal agreements for nearly a decade, something the bounced joint venture agreement was to formalize.
Notably would the council earn a reported 200 million Tanzania Shillings from forgoing hunting in the area which Grumeti has turned into a private game reserve, aimed according to a source claiming to be acquainted with the going ons in the area, to leave the game undisturbed and enhance the safari experience of visitors. According to this source even the airport plans have been overstated as this would probably be a local airfield, not an international airport for jets to arrive from abroad, something which however is not what has previously been said by the investors representatives when the impression of a fully fledged airport was given and not of a lesser airfield for light aircraft.
The Serengeti District Council also appeared divided over the postponement of the signing of the joint venture agreement, with some of the old guard, including the chairman of the council literally apologizing for not delivering a signed contract as they appear to have promised to Grumeti Reserves, while some of the younger councilors insisted however of referring the matter to the respective committee for perusal in greater details and translation in to Kiswahili. Time to sit back and watch how this unfolds and what discussions in the committees of the Serengeti District Council will bring to light.