When President John Pombe Magufuli decided to walk tall with a big stick by refusing to chicken out to international shrieks against the construction of the recently signed 2113-megawat Stiegler’s Gorger hydro-electric power project, international media started a blitzkrieg against him under various ploys. The Global Construction Review (GCR) (July 4, 2017) quotes Magufuli as saying that he is not going to listen to the ploys by the people who speak about impacts on environment without facts on the grounds. While some so-called environmentalists are hollering, Egypt, which secured the $3B tender to construct the dam is quoted by the Egypt Today (October 21, 2018) saying that “the dam will ‘make Africa proud.’”
The first ploy revolves around environmental concerns. Phew! Why environment is an issue when an African country tries to emancipate itself from whatever dependence? Why doesn’t the same apply when it comes to the looming global warming the West’s caused when it was creating the capital and pulleys for their current development? Who is boycotting and taxing, say, the United State to cut down its carbon emission not to mention other superpowers such as China, India and others whose role in causing this havoc is great?
Let’s face it. Who’s endangering environment between the one who seeks to construct the source of relatively cheap electric and the one who wants to stop him? Why don’t we become clean about this by being sincere? How many thousands of trees do our people fell daily due to the lack of electricity that’d eradicate this phenomenon? Does this need to have a PhD in environmental science really? How many Tanzanians are going to kiss goodbye the use of charcoal and switch to clean energy after the project is actualised and finalised?
Interestingly, some of those opposing the project are our own! For example, the Citizen (December 11, 2016) cited a veteran journalist, Attilio Tagalile wondering how and why we’re ‘killing’ our plants while others are protecting theirs. What comes first between trees and humans and who or what use who or what? As per president Magufuli, Tanzania is the only country that wholeheartedly set aside over 30% of its territory to conservational and environmental purposes.
According to the BBC (December 12, 2018) the Stiegler’s Gorge was named after a Swiss engineer who wanted to construct a dam in 1907. Had Stiegler not been killed by an elephant, today, the Stiegler’s Gorge would have been puking money to benefit a foreign national. I suggest that this famous Gorge be decolonised by being renamed either to its original name, Rufiji Gorge or whatever the authorities responsible deem fit.
After becoming aware of Stiegler’s drive to construct a dam, I tried to find if the so-called international community barking at Magufuli today did stand up to the project as it is currently doing under different pretexts.
Another reason propounded is that the project, according to the WWF, the global environmental body, cited by the BBC above “will also endanger the livelihoods of some 200,000 people.” Again, since when foreign entities have become concerned about the rights of our people while the same have kept mum when we were colonised? When will we see our own needs and rights without necessarily waiting for foreigners to see them? Who knows the people between ourselves represented by our government and these foreigners? Logically, nobody knows what our country needs than the government the people elected to do their business. Poland recently flatly refused to butcher its coal industry noting that it's in the interests of its people.
Again, nobody denies that there won’t be any environmental ramifications to the people living around the project. Importantly, when we weigh the damages and achievements, the latter outweighs the former. Had the government refused to redress the people to be affected or address their concerns, complaints against it would be legit. Even when there are some issues, methinks our country, as an independent entity, has its own means and mechanism of addressing them.
Another reason comes from the so-called conservationists who argue that the area is a UNESCO world heritage site! Heritage site for whom if Tanzanians, who legally and naturally own the area in question, cannot be considered or listened to? Who’s the world without us and our needs? Do we matter in world’s affairs so as the world to equally matter to our affairs? What’s the world done to address our power glitches? Do we need to really speak softly and carry a big stick or just ignore everything and meet our goals? As once president Magufuli put it, if the Stiegler’s Gorge project were a uranium mine project, all these brouhahas would be nominal.
Another reason given revolves around tourism in that the Selous Game Reserve is going to be adversely affected. Well, who decided on what to be done with our resources? If tourists bring money to our country, it is upon us to decide what we need first between power self-sufficiency and tourdollars tourists bring in?
Source: Citizen, today.