Tanzania National Parks' Principal Ecologist Dr James Wakibara, and the Serengeti National Park's Chief Warden Mr William Mwakilema, have both defended the proposed construction of Arusha-Musoma highway, via Serengeti saying it will ease administration and tourism travel.
They were testifying on behalf of the Government during the seating of the First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice which was hearing the evidence witnesses in a Reference (case) by the Africa Network for Animal Welfare contesting United Republic of Tanzania's intention to build the road crossing the Serengeti National Park.
The Green Activists body which is based in Nairobi, Kenya had filed the case at EACJ arguing that the proposed road would be hazardous to animals. The sole witness for the Applicant was Mr John Mabala-Kuloba an Environment Consultant with Earth Services Limited in Kenya.
Kuloba, who practices assessment in environmental impact, participated in the evaluation of the Serengeti Highway with other experts and according to the assessment both positive and negative impacts were observed.
He said the proposed road goes through the National Park and due to noise and public movement on the road, animal behavior would be affected among other negative impacts.
On the other hand, he noted the road would create opportunities for provision of goods for the markets, reduce long distance travels for the people, it being a public road. He however maintained that the project ought to be abandoned to protect the wild life and the ecosystem of the National Park.
The witness for the Respondent, Ms Zafarani Madayi, Head of Safety and Environment, Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) representing the government, pointed out that what should be emphasized is mitigation measures in order to enhance the positive impacts such as tourism and socio-economic development contributed by good roads.
In March 2012 the EACJ First Instance Division granted ANAW a temporary injunction against Tanzanian Government which effectively blocked the latter's attempt to construct a highway through the Serengeti National Park until the Reference was heard and determined.
Present at the hearing were the Representative of ANAW, Mr Wachi Benson, His Lawyer Mr Saitabau Kanchory Mbalelo and Counsel for Tanzania Mr Gabriel Malata, Principal State Attorney all appearing before The Principal Judge Justice Jean Bosco Butasi, The Deputy Principal Judge Lady Justice Mary Stella Arach Amoko, Justice John Mkwawa, Justice Isaac Lenaola and Justice Faustin Ntezilyayo in open Court.
The Court will notify the parties on the day to highlight the written submissions.
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.