Despite pressure from international environmental groups the Tanzanian government is pushing ahead with its construction plans for the 480 km Arusha-Musoma commercial highway through the Serengeti national park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Minister for works John Magufuli stated that the USD 480 millon road was important for economic and social reasons as it would link communities on both sides of the Serengeti as well as providing road access to tourists. Opponents argue that the highway is being built to benefit foreign commercial mining companies.

Scheduled to begin in 2012, the proposed route runs from Mto-wa-Mbu, to Engaruka, to Lake Natron shores, Loliondo, Serengeti and finally to Musoma.

Environmentalists are concerned about a 53km stretch of road that they say will adversely affect the Serengeti