Two Tanzanian lawmakers on Tuesday expressed disappointment over a government move to invite tenders for logging inside the country’s Selous Game Reserve.

Zitto Kabwe, member of parliament for Kigoma Urban constituency, and Nape Nnauye, MP for Mtama constituency, appealed to the government to suspend the move pending a strategic environmental impact assessment in the area, home to wildlife, including elephants.

The proposed logging was in an area earmarked for Stiegler’s Gorge hydro-power project in the Selous Game Reserve.

The lawmakers made the appeal while debating 2018/19 budget estimates for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

“The area earmarked for logging is a very big area involving over 3 million cubic meters,” Nnauye said.

“This is against the law and the Attorney General should help the government to obey laws of the land,” he added.

Kabwe wondered how the government discourages human activities in the Rufiji River basin where the Stiegler’s Gorge is located but allows the implementation of the hydro-power project, which also involved human activities.

“We are not against the project, but we want clearing of trees for the project is delayed until the environmental assessment is done,” Kabwe said.

Last week, the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) Agency invited tenders for logging in the area to pave way for the mega hydro-power project.

TFS chief executive Dos Santos Silayo said the intention is to “clear the project area before implementation of the project starts.”

“We opened the tenders for felling the trees so that they can be used for various purposes rather than destroying them,” Silayo told Xinhua by telephone.

The Stiegler’s Gorge project is scheduled to start in July.

Minister for Energy Medard Kalemani said last month the 2,100MW hydro-power project will see the construction of the largest dam in Tanzania along the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve.

The Stiegler’s Gorge power generation project is expected to completely end the country’s power woes and sell the surplus outside the country, Kalemani said.

There has been concern for many years over the project’s potential negative impact on the Selous Game Reserve, a world heritage site renowned for its animal populations and variety of wildlife habitats. Enditem


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