Dar Es Salaam - Tanzania's president said on Saturday construction of a controversial two-lane road through the UN-listed Serengeti national park will go ahead as it will not disturb the ecosystem.Comment: This is a very disturbing story. How can Kikwete even think of such a thing? There must be a ton of money to be made by developing this road.
"All precautions have been taken to make sure that the wildlife is not affected," Jakaya Kikwete was quoted as saying by state-owned media as telling election campaign rallies in Ngorongoro and Serengeti districts.
Kikwete, who is seeking re-election for a second and final five tear term, was responding to local and foreign activists who oppose the project on grounds that it would scare away animals.
"What I can assure the activists is that the Serengeti shall not die and the proposed road has many social and economic advantages to the people in Mara and Arusha regions," he told residents of the Mto wa Mbu area.
On Thursday, the Tanzanian government announced they have formed a team to study the impact of the project, but that it had not changed its position on the construction of the road.
Some local environmentalists say a paved road through Mikumi National Park in central Tanzania has led to the death of many animals that are hit by vehicles despite speed bumps.
Some 27 biodiversity experts recently warned in the science journal Nature, that the proposed Serengeti highway would destroy one of the world's last great wildlife sanctuaries.
Rushing to the area
"The road will cause an environmental disaster," the experts said, urging the government to look at an alternative route that runs far south of the UN-listed site.
The planned road slashes right across the annual migratory route taken by 1.3 million wildebeest, part of the last great mass movements of animals.
The wildebeest play a vital role in a fragile ecosystem, maintaining the vitality of Serengeti's grasslands and sustaining threatened predators such as lions, cheetahs and wild dogs, they said.
Kikwete has repeatedly defended the planned road, saying the stretch crossed by migrating animals will be gravelled rather than paved with the aim of reducing speed. Sceptics say lorries will speed even on gravel.
The president has also argued that the road will improve transportation and boost economic activity for people living close to the park.
Tanzanian media have reported people rushing to the area to put up buildings and plant crops in the hope of being compensated when construction starts.- AFP
Is there no end to the greed of capitalist development?
Cutting the Serengeti in half with a damn road for trucks and cars is about the dumbest thing I've read for a very long time.
It is a tragedy unfolding.