DANGERS OF URANIUM MINING DELIBERATELY PLAYED DOWN
Tanzanian officials continue to play down the dangers of the proposed Uranium mining project inside the UNESCOs World Heritage Site Selous Game Reserve, according to some experts consulted almost deliberately endangering the health of local populations for the sole motive of profits. They have been bought, that much is clear, and when they say, like the Commissioner for Energy, that playing with Uranium is safe they are misleading the public for the simple motive of profits. There is a very serious risk of pollution, and the former Soviet Union is a very good example for that, there they are struggling until today with the mess and fall out of those Uranium mines, poisoned water sources and poisoned soil said a regular conservation source from Dar es Salaam while passing on the information overnight. The Tanzanian government has applied to UNESCO to get permission to commence mining in the reserve or else excavate the area earmarked for mining, but as rivers flow through the proposed mining areas into the reserve and then on to the Indian Ocean, fears are growing of contamination of the water with devastating effects for people, wildlife and eventually marine life, with the long term effects not possible to mitigate away. There are however also other areas of the country where Uranium deposits have been found and where the focus of environmental groups has been less until now.
Development partners too are concerned that the portion of revenue coming to the Tanzanian government seems outrageously low, confirming doubts on the value of the deal or else suggesting that the true value will go elsewhere, and your guess here is as good as mine.
Interesting enough were comments attributed to a senior staff of an Uranium exploration company, who was subsequently quoted in the local media warning of lasting liver damage to those drinking water which has been in contact with Uranium with other health problems due to the toxicity not fully explored at this stage.
While government in full mouthed statements heap praise on their policies and regulations, it is often a sad fact that those are trampled upon and discarded when money starts to flow as has often been seen in other sectors across the economy, giving little confidence that it would be any different here. NEMA officials reportedly also decried the low capacity of monitoring and enforcement, suggesting further that government would largely have to rely on data by the mining companies, which could easily be doctored or present it such a way as to suggest minimum risks, many of which would only become apparent in the longer term.
Stakeholders operating into the Selous have also expressed concern over the ongoing negative publicity surrounding Africa largest game reserve, with one, on condition of anonymity saying: We are worried about this controversy. Tourists are easily put off and they can now find on their computers anything you people write and expose. Like your story about Stieglers Gorge has raised a lot of questions overseas and government should come out and make a statement that they will leave the gorge intact and not built a power plant there. The same for mining of Uranium. There are a lot of issues with poaching and government should concentrate on that, to open up the Selous into the distant unexplored places so that more tented camps can be put up, more visitors can come in and sustainable revenue can create jobs and earn us Forex. That is the way forward for us. Spoken with the heart of a true conservationist. Watch this space.
Archive for November 18th, 2011
Tanzania conservation news – Uranium mining dangers downplayed, belittled by government officials with vested interests
DANGERS OF URANIUM MINING DELIBERATELY PLAYED DOWN
NOT PROUD TO BE THE PRIDE FOR A CHANGE
Passengers reacted angrily earlier in the week when their scheduled Kenya Airways flight was first delayed and then cancelled altogether, prompting the country manager of KQ in Kampala to offer a formal apology to those affected. The development took place on Thursday, causing a sizeable number of passengers to miss connecting flights, leaving KQs airport and town office staff under literal siege. Tweeted a Twitter pal by DM to this correspondent: Flight to NBO delayed, will miss lunch apptmt, pls call them 4me before later tweeting: Flight now cancelled completely, tell them, wont be able 2 meet.
Scores of passengers were reportedly mobbing Kenya Airways and DAS Handling staff as and when they were seen as attempts were made to rebook passengers on alternative flights, especially those with onward connections beyond Nairobi.
A regular aviation source in Nairobi had this to say: KQs expansion drive is exposing them to such problems, Their aircraft are heavily deployed and utilized and they have little downtime. When a technical problem occurs, or several at a time with various aircraft, they do not have it easy to find a stand by aircraft for all those affected flights. It may get a bit better when they get more Embraers next year, but then again, those are already planned for new routes. I think it shows now what hard work Bram Stellar as COO did at the airline, because before he arrived Kenya Airways had a similar spell of problems and he sorted those out real fast and restored KQs reputation. Whoever is in charge now of operations, has a very big pair of shoes to fill and match Brams rate of success.
Airline staff in Kampala, acquainted with this correspondent, understandably preferred not to go on record but expressed their deep regret over the delay and cancellation.
MAURITIUS TO PROMOTE SPIRITUAL HERITAGE TOURISM
Hot on the heels of a report about the establishment of the Praslin Heritage Route in the Seychelles come news from Mauritius, another member of the Vanilla Islands, that they too will turn to their heritage in search of added attractions for tourist visitors.
The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, in short MTPA, earlier this week entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the countrys Council of Religions to open up place of worship to visitors while at the same time looking into a code of ethics for the tourism industry together. The latter, amongst other issues, will surely prevent scantily dressed or barefeet tourists from entering spiritually important places and places of worship but the upcoming cooperation clearly has a wider brief and intent than just that.
Mauritius already has visitors from abroad specifically coming to the island for religious festivals and commemorations, but this niche of tourism is to be widened and further enhanced by new products and initiatives to fully tap into this potentially significant market segment.
Similar to the Seychelles annual calendar of events Mauritius also seems poised to summarize religious and ethnic festivals and provide comprehensive information for visitors through websites or printed guide material, to make tourists aware of the rich cultural diversity they can expect on the island while there on vacation. A competition for Mauritius citizens is planned for next month to express themselves in regard of their values vis a vis tourism, with the results flowing into the preparation of a code of ethics, showing a broad based approach to capture the sentiments of locals and avoid agonizing them when organized tours descend on as many as 400 earmarked places of worship or otherwise cultural and spiritual significance.
TOURISM MINISTER CALLS KANYEIHAMBA A FAILURE
Recently returned from attending the World Travel Market in London did Ugandas Minister of Tourism Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu finally speak out on the controversial report of the commission of enquiry, scripted by equally controversial retired Supreme Court justice George Kanyeihamba.
The minister, cited in the report allegedly as a slap in his face by Kanyeihamba for not extending the term of the commission by yet another three months denounced it and stated publicly that he was never heard in regard of his mention in the report nor had the opportunity to comment prior to such mention being included in the report. How can you implicate me without giving me chance to explain my side of the story? What was the basis for implicating and recommending for prosecution against me without a hearing? was the minister quoted to have asked when commenting on media question about the sordid affair, which is further discrediting the substance of the commissions report even in parts where some credible questions have been raised. Prof. Kamuntu then added This is violation of my human rights. Prof. Kanyeihamba should apologise to me publicly for failing to perform, giving a clear indication that the report, which others equally named have already called a piece of trash not worth the paper it is printed on may well be binned if not shredded altogether. Legally competent sources also mentioned to this correspondent that the Inspector General of Government can only act if he receives the report officially from the tourism ministry but the latest comments by the minister clearly indicate that this may never happen now, barring the way for further investigations on that level. Several of those negatively mentioned in the report have in any case already vowed to take the matter to court for alleged slander and character assassination, so there is still another element to play out in coming months.
Kanyeihambas term at the commission was marked by constant demands for facilitation i.e. money and resources, office space and more, which ended him in head on collisions with the ministrys Permanent Secretary, and here too he did not miss the opportunity to lash out too, turning the entire process into not much more than a mockery and exposing it as the kangaroo court it was from the start. Only in Uganda.
AIR UGANDA TO ADD MORE FLIGHTS
Earlier this week did Air Ugandas new CEO Kayle Haywood announced plans for early 2012 to increase the airlines flights between Entebbe and Nairobi to 19 per week, arguably referring to their early afternoon departure which has so far only operated on those days seen able to support a third daily flight.
The added frequencies will operate according to a source close to the airline from Monday to Friday, but not on weekends when a morning and evening service will be available.
It was also confirmed, at last, that Juba will get additional flights. Presently the airline flies daily with one added flight so far, which will go up to 12 overall from January when at least on 5 days, again thought to be on days supporting a second frequency, a double daily will become available.
Talk about domestic routes though was taken with a grain of salt, as the volume of domestic flights has progressively reduced since peace was restored in the North of the country a few years ago, and the only airline now flying domestic schedule services, Eagle, is said to be struggling with this factor that many erstwhile passengers are now travelling on very good bitumen roads to such places as Arua or Gulu, which in the past were only safe to reach by air. Watch this space for regular updates from East Africas aviation scene.