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Tanzania says Serengeti highway project still on
by Staff Writers
Dar Es Salaam (AFP) June 30, 2011

Tanzania still plans to build a highway through the iconic Serengeti park, a minister said Thursday, contradicting an announcement by UNESCO that the project had been abandoned.

"The government will continue with the project, but leave out 120 kilometres (in the park) as gravel. Gravel road will not have a big impact on wildlife," Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Ezekiel Maige told reporters.

Maige explained that sections of the highway running through the celebrated park will be not be tarmacked.

He cited a 12-kilometre stretch between Mugumu and Tabora "B", and two 57-kilometre stretches from Tabora "B" through Klens Gate to Loliondo.

On Saturday, a UNESCO official told AFP that "the World Heritage Committee has received assurance on the part of the Tanzanian government that the highway project is abandoned."

Environmentalists have campaigned against the highway project arguing that it will endanger millions of wildebeests and zebra that annually cross from Serengeti into the Masai Mara in Kenya, forming a migration spectacle that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists.

Tanzania's government has argued the country should start caring for its people as much as for its wildlife.

The route is intended to link Musoma, on the banks of Lake Victoria, to Arusha.

"We understand that there is a lot of resistance from environmentalists, but we have to balance between people's development, especially efficient transportation and conservation issues," Maige said.

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