After seemingly endless complaints from potential investors regarding inordinate delays in granting environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificates to prospective investors in Tanzania, the government has finally decided on a somewhat novel solution.
This is to grant provisional EIA certificates up-front to intending investors within three days of applications therefor being received by the issuing authorities. This is even as the impact assessment is in progress.
On the face of it, this is not necessarily a bad idea.
Basically, EIA is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or other developmental activity, taking into account interrelated socio-economic, cultural and other human-related impacts – both beneficial and adverse.
Usually, EIA is conducted prior to deciding whether or not the intended project or activity should go ahead, all depending on the final results of the assessment.
In such a delicate situation, we unhesitatingly alert the relevant authorities to be extremely cautious in issuing provisional certificates. This is especially in view of the likelihood of the final assessment proving negative while project implementation had already started on the back of the provisional certificate.
A living example of this is the EIA clearance granted for the construction of the state-owned Dar Rapid Transit (Dart) commuter bus headquarters project in the Jangwani area of Dar es Salaam that’s prone to heavy flooding every so often, thus rendering the premises inoperable following heavy rains.
Secondly, if and when provisional EIA certificates are granted, their terms and conditions must be adhered to in the letter and spirit by the project implementers, be they private or public sector operators.
This also holds true for the subsequent EIA certificate.
In the final analysis, both provisional and final EIA certificates must be realistic and functional.