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Friday, 9 July 2010

Serengeti National Park - Highway Update

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
We had informed recently about the project of the Tanzania Government to build a highway through Serengeti National Park. We are all seeing the block reaction from different local and international organizations opposing this project given the threat it means to this delicate eco-system, which would damage its balance and ultimate affect tourism and the whole economy of Tanzania following the negative impact on the natural balance.

We would like hereby to forward to you the statement from TATO, the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, released yesterday 8th July, for you to be aware and see what pressure TATO is also putting into opposing this road.

We think that the more people are aware of it and the devastating impact that it will have on not only the Serengeti but Ngorongoro and Maasai Mara, the better and hopefully they can all lobby against it.

As part of the industry here on the ground in Tanzania, we are keeping in communication with TATO and TTB about the status of the road, and it is our intention to keep you regularly posted on the developments.

“Dear TATO Members,

At the AGM on 17th June, 2010, the meeting appointed an ad hoc Committee to strategise about how we should tackle the PROPOSED LAKE ZONE LINK HIGHWAY THROUGH SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK in the most effective manner and to ensure that our interests are conveyed to Government . The following is the recommendation of the Committee:

The Committee recommends that TATO adopts a strongly opposing stance on the issue of the Serengeti Highway for 2 primary reasons:

* The road threatens the Serengeti eco-system. Almost all TATO members rely on the wildebeest migration as main Tanzania destination marketing . The overwhelming opinion is that this highway is likely to negatively affect the wildebeest and their annual migration. Even if the highway is initially a gravel road, in 10 years time will it be upgraded to tarmac as our country develops its infrastructure? And in 20 years might it become a 4-lane highway? (This seems to be the acceptable alternative)

* The international travel industry is extremely concerned about the development of this road and if TATO was not perceived by our markets to strongly oppose it, would they lose faith in us and take their business elsewhere?

TATO opposes the Government of Tanzania s plan to build a highway across the Serengeti National Park because a such transit road is likely to harm the wildebeest migration, from which the vast majority of TATO members, as well as a significant proportion of the working population of Northern Tanzania receive their livelihoods. TATO believes in rural and infrastructural development and strongly urges the Government to consider the alternative route to the Lake Zone south of the Serengeti Ecosystem OR construct a tunnel on the 52 km stretch as a fall back position

The Committee believes that TATO strategy should be as follows:

* Pursue the normal channels of advocacy to persuade the decision makers within our Government against the northern route through Serengeti and encourage serious consideration for the southern route.

* Give clear, well-argued and strong opinions to the project stakeholders. Ie the engineering consultants, Tanroads, potential donors.

* Motivate members to attend and speak at all public hearings that will be part of the NEMC Environmental Impact Assessment process.

* If the above fail, only then will TATO resort to media and other publicity campaigns.

* Individual members may of course pursue their own strategies of lobbying and encourage their customers to do the same.

We plan to present this position to the Government next Monday (12th July).

Tanzania Association of Tour Operators”

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