By Elias Mhegera – CONFLICTS of interest between domestic and tourism demands have once resurfaced in the construction of tarmac road linking Arusha and Mara regions.
This time it was residents of Ngorongoro who asked the government to construct the said road without hesitation, despite external pressures on account that the construction of this road will disturb wild animals and the ecology of this area.
Shout-africa.com had the opportunity of meeting members of the Jukwaa la Wanataluma na Sauti ya Jamii Wilayani Ngorongoro, which is a professional forum comprising people born and/or living in Ngorongoro, on Sunday this week at the Ubungo Plaza in Dar es Salaam.
Voicing the call of Ngorongoro people was Onesmo Olengurumwa, who was accompanied by their legislator Kaika Saning’o Ole Telele, board member Patrick Ngwediagi, Coordinator Valentine Ngorisa and Mesha Pius Assistant Secretary.
“The forum has been following with a keen interest the ongoing debate at different fora and media outlets surrounding the construction of a tarmac road,” said Olengurumwa.
He argued that his organization has observed that for many, years now, the Tanzanian government has had good intentions of constructing a tarmac road from Mtowambu-Loliondo/Mugumu Makutano which would not only benefit the residents of Ngorongoro, Monduli and Serengeti districts but the whole of Tanzania and even the East African region.
The construction of this road has been in the government’s pipeline since the early 1980s. In recent years the government has just renewed its intentions. “These opponents don’t even know our needs or they have just chosen to ignore the truth,” he added. He added that opponents of this plan, who include international conservationists, have been using different tactics to attract support from the international community, including incorrectly renaming the road the “Serengeti Super Highway”.
This call was echoed by the MP for Ngorongoro Ole Telele, who was of the opinion that a neighbouring country is behind this campaign, because they know that once the road is fully constructed the flow of tourists will increase in Northern Tanzania.
The most recent strong pronouncement on the position of the Tanzanian government was made on 30th March 2012 by President Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, during an award-giving ceremony to best journalists, in Dar es Salaam.
In his speech, President Kikwete urged Tanzanians in general and journalists in particular, to stop supporting the opponents of what he termed as noble decision, which is after all for the betterment of their country.
The argument of Ngorongoro is that the cost of essential commodities transported to the area would be reduced significantly. Those living in the vicinity also say the road will interlink their regions more appropriately.