Tanzania's road through Serengeti still on, but to be unpaved
It turns out that Tanzania will build a road through the Serengeti National Park after all, but it will be an unpaved road and game rangers will control traffic to avoid disturbing the annual migration of wildebeest.
"The Serengeti road project has not been abandoned ... we have just revised it. I don't know where all this confusion comes from," Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Ezekiel Maige told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The U.N. world heritage body UNESCO said this week Tanzania would reconsider the planned road which aims to ease transport problems facing poor communities surrounding the park but has been criticized by conservation bodies.
The initial plan to build an asphalt road has now been dropped.
"The project is still there without a shadow of a doubt. But the road will be unpaved, so there will be no tarmac road or highway traversing through the Serengeti National Park," said Maige.
Maige said rangers from the state-run Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) would set up checkpoints and control the flow of traffic through a 53-km section of the road cutting across the wilderness area.
"The road will be closely supervised. TANAPA will put up gates and carry out regular patrols to ensure no harm comes to the wildlife population as a result of vehicles that will be allowed to pass through the road," he said.
"The road passing through the Serengeti will remain under the ownership and control of TANAPA. The ownership of the road will not be transferred to the government's highway roads agency."
Roads outside the national park will be paved, but roads leading to the park and those inside the wildlife sanctuary will not be.
Photo shows wildebeests migrating from Serengeti game park in Tanzania crossing the Mara river into Kenya's Masai Mara game park, in this picture taken August 18, 2003.