Activists file suit against Serengeti Highway move

by Dec 16, 2010Conservation Threats, Serengeti

A leading Pan-African organisation dealing with human rights and animal welfare has filed a case at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in Arusha, against the proposed construction of a highway through Serengeti plains.

The African Network for Animal Welfare is seeking an interim order of injunction to restrain the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania from constructing the proposed Arusha-Musoma highway which is reportedly going to cut through the Serengeti National Park.

Lawyer Saitabao ole Kanchory of Kanchory & Co Advocates representing the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) on last Friday filed the case at the EACJ chambers located within the Arusha International Conference Centre complex.

Besides interim order of injunction, ANAW also demanded that the court should declare that the action to construct the road is unlawful and infringes on the provisions of the East African Community Treaty; and a permanent injunction prohibiting Tanzania from constructing the highway through the fragile national park ecosystem.

The move to court follows what is being described as the persistence by the Tanzanian Government to implement the plan in full knowledge that the action is unlawful and infringes provisions of the EAC Treaty specifically Articles 5, 89, 111, 112, 114 and 116.

Despite conceding the serious ecological and environmental hazards of the proposed highway, identifying and acknowledging more than 15 severe negative impacts of implementing the project. In its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report, Tanzania still proposes to proceed with the said project.

Kanchory maintained that the report is titled ‘Environmental and Social Impact Assessment,’ but the only social impact they have mentioned is employment and the importation of outsiders for skilled labour.

When asked if his client, like many wildlife preservation agencies, is opposed to the construction of the project for the sake of wildlife Kanchory responded that, “The fact that the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem has the largest concentration of wildlife remaining on this planet proves that the communities in the same ecosystem coexisted with wildlife,” he said.

“We must support the Government motives that both help communities while at the same time conserving wildlife and natural resources. We work for communities and wildlife.” He maintained.