Dar es Salaam. Contrary to initial reports, the government has said that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric project that was published in 2009 will not be used to guide the project, instead, a new assessment was done and has already been concluded.
Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (VPO) responsible for the Union and Environment, Mr January Makamba when responding to concerns over the project through his official Twitter account, clarified that the fresh assessment has also been conducted by the Institute of Resource Assessment of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).
“Its report was submitted last week by the Tanzania National Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco),” reads part of his response, adding,
“A team from the National Environmental Management Committee (NEMC) will visit the project area this week to verify and talk to the community and stakeholders.”
Mr Makamba was responding to a tweet from a vibrant entrepreneur based in Dar es Salaam, Ms Carol Ndosi (@CarolNdosi) who sought to know if the initial environmental impact assessment would be used during the implementation of the project since a lot of time has passed since it was conducted.
“College paper-EIA was conducted in 2009! How many years has it been? Yet there are rumors that the World Bank (WB) has refused to fund the project and they have presented their alternatives,” she asked, adding.
“If the WB is not going to fund the project where are we going to secure funds for the project, considering the country’s national debt? #StieglersGorge.”
Mr Makamba's response came one day after Members of Parliament engaged in a heated debate over the project expected to generate 2,100MW of electricity at the Selous Game Reserve.
Debating the 2018/2019 budget estimates for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, they pointed that the project threatened to sustainability of the country’s natural resources.While some of them called for the project to be delayed until completion of the environmental impact assessment, others urged the government to push ahead with the hydropower project.
The government is expected to unveil the project later in July, this year, despite growing opposition from environmentalists who fear of a negative impact on the renowned park, which is the mainstay of the country’s tourism.