Kenya, Tanzania lock horns over tourist's hotspot border entry point

The Bologonja border was closed in 1977 after the breakup of the former East African Community and Tanzania is determined to keep it that way permanently.

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The County government of Narok, in conjunction with the national government is currently in the process of rehabilitating the Sand River Gate office, and then plans to construct an immigration office at a cost of $1 million to process tourists travelling between Maasai Mara Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park.

The plan is to create a shortcut into wildlife reserves in northern Tanzania through the Sand River Gate inside the Maasai Mara Game Reserve which has highly upset Tanzania.

Tour operators and hotel owners in Tanzania have bitterly protested the plan, claiming it augurs badly for conservation and tourism.

“Our association is opposed to current developments on the Kenyan side, which we believe would have an adverse economic and environmental impact on the Serengeti ecosystem if the Bologonja border is opened to allow tourists from Kenya to pass into northern Tanzania,” Tanzania Association of Tour Operators executive secretary Sirili Akko told a local daily.

Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala was quoted by a South African magazine early this year saying the project would serve tourists travelling between Maasai Mara and Serengeti well since it would cut short the long distance tourist currently have to endure.

The current route from the Mara Game Reserve to Tanzania is too long and takes up to five hours to drive tourists from Maasai-Mara to Serengeti through Migori- Sirari border point.

According to Kenya’s plan the Sand River immigration office would serve tourists from both countries.

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