By Mugini Jacob
Three ministers have appealed to residents of seven villages in Tarime district, Mara region, surrounding Serengeti National Park to avoid unnecessary conflicts between them and authorities of the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).
The ministers made the appeal yesterday during their visit to the villages close to Serengeti Park where they held two public meetings at Nyanungu and Kwihancha wards.
They made the visit in response to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa’s recent directive made in parliament to have an audience with the villagers to hear their side of the story regarding beacons put up by government to demarcate the villages/Serengeti border few weeks ago.
Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) Angella Kariuki told the villagers that there wasn’t a new border re-established in favour of the park.
“No new border has been reestablished. The Government General Notice is the same (235 of 1968). There’s absolutely nothing new,” she told villagers of Nyanungu ward at Kegonga village.
The villagers had vehemently staged a protest when the beacons were erected along the border.
Kairuki made a passionate plea to the villagers not to remove the beacons, saying that a good government cannot do anything to harm or mistreat its citizens.
“It is our belief that these beacons will be respected and protected. These signs are meant to avoid future conflicts between TANAPA – the state organ charged with protecting the country’s national parks — and the villagers.
Kariuki also directed TANAPA to help the villagers look for alternative sources of water for their livestock after they complained that part of the river where they used to take their animals is now on the side of the park.
“Livestock grazing in the park is prohibited. If the problem is water, TANAPA can now help the villagers by drilling boreholes and buildings dams,“ she advised.
Lands and Human Settlement Development Minister Dr Angeline Mabula called on the villagers to respect existing laws of conservation and other statutes on land management.
Similarly, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mary Masanja also urged the villagers to stop invading wildlife conservation areas because doing so was illegal.
Mara Regional Commissioner Suleiman Mzee, TANAPA Conservation Commissioner William Mwakilema and Tarime Member of Parliament, Mwita Waitara among others, accompanied the ministers.