Sunday, February 16, 2014

Govt defends Serengeti road

By Zephania Ubwani, The Citizen Bureau Chief

Arusha. The government has defended the proposed highway across the Serengeti National Park, saying constructing it will neither violate the East African Community (EAC) Treaty nor harm the ecosystem.

Government Counsel Gabriel Malata told the East African Court of Justice that the highway would ease the movement of tourists to and from the area.

When the case was filed in December 2010, he explained, the government had not decided on whether to build a tarmac or gravel road. After a feasibility study, Mr Malata said, the gravel road came out on top--essentially because it would have no effect on the Serengeti eco-system.

Mr Malata, the principal state attorney, asked the court to dismiss the case filed by the Nairobi-based Africa Network of Animal Welfare (ANAW) with costs. He argued that supporting ANAW would frustrate the tourism sector in the entire region “because the road is there to facilitate the movement of tourists”.

The EAC partner states were yet to ratify the Protocol on Environment and Natural Resources, he added, making the case premature.

ANAW argues that construction of the road will be hazardous to the environment and animals in particular. The group’s lawyer, Saitabao Kanchory Mbalelo told the court that construction of the road across the national park infringes Articles 5 and 3 of the EAC Treaty.