Ngorongoro residents have appealed to the government to ensure that Serengeti Road is constructed in the 2012/13 financial year due to its socio-economic potential for the country.
“We ask for support from all Tanzanians, legislators and neighbouring districts so that Ngorongoro residents are allowed to benefit from their hard work and patience,” said Onesmo Ole Ngurumwa, the Vice Chairman of the Forum of Professionals and Ngorongoro residents (Juwasawingo) during a press briefing in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Ole Ngurumwa blamed people misleading members of the public and the international community by referring to the project as the Serengeti Super Highway which does not exist and has never been thought of. He said what they were aware of was the Mtowambu-Loliondo/Mugumu-Makutano tarmac road.
According to him, the new road will reduce the length of the road traversing the Serengeti National Park from 220 to 54 kilometres only and that the 54-kilometre stretch would not be paved.
He said the road, which would connect Arusha and Mara regions, would facilitate transport and reduce costs, bringing about economic transformation to surrounding communities, since villagers would be able to transport their agricultural produce and livestock to major market centres in Arusha, Moshi, Musoma and Mwanza.
“The new road has many advantages to the economy especially the advancement of local people,” he noted.
He explained that the plan to construct the road had the blessings of President Jakaya Kikwete, who announced the government position in March, this year.
He said other stakeholders in the road project included district councillors in Bunda, Musoma, Serengeti, Rorya, Musoma, Tarime, Ngorongoro and Monduli.
Others are Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads), the Parliament of Tanzania, sectorial ministries and the President’s Office.
Meanwhile, Ngorongoro Member of Parliament Saning'o Telele has said those opposed to the project included Kenyans, who were worried that once the road was completed their tourism sector would be affected.
“This plan has been there since the establishment of Ngorongoro District in 1979. A feasibility study is ready and the government should now inject funds to make it a reality,” said a Mara resident and economist Abdallah Majura, calling on the MPs from other regions to press for implementation of the project. He said the plan was vital one for the country’s economy and that was why it was incorporated in the country’s five-year development plan.
Majura said the most important thing was to educate people about the project and its potential.
Speaking during Excellence in Journalism Awards Tanzania (EJAT) awards in March, this year, Kikwete reassured the international community that Tanzania would never do anything to destroy the Serengeti National Park such as building a tarmac road through the park.
He said the government wanted to fulfil its commitment of supporting development efforts of communities living around the park including building a tarmac road.
In recent months, a global network of environmental activists and conservators mounted have a completely misinformed campaign claiming that Tanzania intended to destroy the Serengeti by building the tarmac road through the park.