Nairobi — Pressure is growing on the Tanzanian government to accept a compromise over the proposal for a controversial highway through the Serengeti National park.
The road pledge was a key campaign promise by President Jakaya Kikwete in the 2005 election but it has provoked fury from conservationists around the world.
Now there are signs that the international community is also ratcheting up the pressure on Dar es Salaam to abandon the plan, or at least, to accept an alternative.
The German government said earlier this month that it was prepared to put money into an alternative route, looking at alternatives both to the east and the west of the Serengeti, without crossing the park.
Berlin has also indicated that it would finance an international feasibility study for a southern bypass around the national park
The World Bank added its weight to the conservation lobby when Country Director for Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi John Murray McIntire said the Bank was ready to help in financing an alternative route for the road that would otherwise cut through the park.
“The World Bank is proposing alternatives that we believe will achieve Tanzania’s development objectives while preserving the unique character of the Serengeti as part of the world’s environmental heritage,” McIntire said recently
The annual migration of two million wildebeests and zebras is one of Earth’s natural wonders and draws tourists from all over the world.
However, it is a huge area, and for people living and trading around the Serengeti, it means a 420-km round journey around the southern edge of the park.
The Tanzanian government has proposed a $480 million road for the northern part of the Serengeti linking the area around Lake Victoria with eastern Tanzania.
It claims that the road will not stop the wildebeest migration and would have a 40-mile stretch unpaved to allow wildlife movement.
But experts predict that with the road taking 3,000 vehicles a day in 20 years time, this would inevitably affect the migration.