Dodoma. The planned construction of Stiegler’s Gorge power dam in the Selous Game Reserve has attracted criticism from the opposition lawmakers who argue the project is a threat to sustainability of the country’s natural resources.
The members of parliament were debating the 2018/2019 budget estimates of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism today in Dodoma.
The government plans to roll out the hydropower project later in July this year despite growing opposition from environmentalists who fear a negative impact on the renowned park which is the mainstay of the country tourism.
The project to produce 2,100 megawatts is touted as Tanzania’s way out of the current power deficiency. The government says it will help the country double its electrical power generation which is currently estimated at 1,513 MW.
The process to pick the company to construct the dam has started.
The ministry has also received applications from companies interested in felling some 3 million indigenous trees to pave the way for the project.
The dam will be built along the Rufiji River which crosses Selous Game Reserve, the very reason that the opposition point out in their argument.
“I wonder why the government wants to move on with the project and yet we know there will be impacts especially from cutting trees. Let us get the Environmental Impact Assessment report on the project,” said Mr Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban-Chadema).
Mr Joshua Nassari (Arumeru East-Chadema) said it is strange for the government to rush to Stiegler’s Gorge project while there were other untapped cheap potentials for power generation.
“Today, we use very little percentage of natural gas to produce power at Kinyerezi. If we just use 25 per cent of the natural gas transported trough Mtwara-Dar es Salaam pipeline, we can get more than 3,000 megawatts, much more that what we anticipate to generate from Stiegler’s Gorge,” said Mr Nassari.