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SGR will cause 'irreparable damage' to Nairobi National Park - experts

A lioness rests on a directional signage at Nairobi's National Park in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 12, 2014. Picture taken July 12, 2014. /REUTERS
A lioness rests on a directional signage at Nairobi's National Park in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 12, 2014. Picture taken July 12, 2014. /REUTERS

The SGR line through the Nairobi National Park will cause irreparable damage, environmental and social impact assessment experts have warned.

John Musingi from University of Nairobi said proposals to have the line cut across the park will cause habitat fragmentation, resulting in inbreeding and imbalances in the ecosystem.

This may lead to wildlife death.

Musingi was speaking on Thursday at a stakeholder's meeting to analyse the done last month.

The public has until mid-November to submit their views on the document to pave way for issuance of the license for SGR Phase IIA.

The study has listed seven options for the line, with all proposed routes cutting through the park.

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It also gives two options that cut right in the middle of the park. These are considered to be more affordable compared with those that skirt the edge of the park.

But Musingi dismissed the report saying: "The consultant who did the ESIA did it in justification of what the government proposes whereas it was meant to be an independent study."

Sarah Munguti from Nature Kenya said the ESIA was part of 'conmanship' aimed at

"We are being herded like wildebeest to one crossing point, which is the park," she said.

The conservationists noted that the public participation exercise was faulty as it excluded NGOs and was rushed.

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"The public participation was done in October, compiled in the same month and released in the same, meaning the process was rushed. ESIA relies on exiting feasibility study done by people with low respect of the value of NNP," Musingi said.

He criticised the environment management plan of failing to tackle issues of risks.

Participants at the meeting said they will oppose any proposals to have the Standard Gauge Railway pass through the park.

The government has proposed the following routes through the park:

Option 1: Kibera Route (orange line)

Routing along the Southern bypass and cutting through Kibera and terminating close to the inland container depot. Required an underground tunnel after carnivore and a bridge before the Ngong forest. Required land acquisition at Sh120 million.

Estimated cost of construction: $674 million

Option 2: Langata Forest Magadi Road Route (yellow line – not easily visible on map)

Along southern bypass with a dog leg through the western forest in NNP then exit through Magadi road. Challenge that it would pass through several institutions incurring huge land costs.

Estimated cost of construction: $615 million

Option 3: Savannah Route (red line)

Savannah route through the middle of the park from the Syokimau to near the Maasai gate/Tuala. Built on an overhead bridge 7.2km long, 18m high across length of park.

Estimated cost of construction: $523 million

Option 4: Modified Savannah Route (light blue line)

Similar to the option above but slightly shorter with a variation in the southern section. Built on an overhead bridge 6.0km long, 18m high across length of park.

According to CAK This is the option KRC proposed to proceed with.

Estimated cost of construction: $543 million

Option 5: Upper South East Route (dark green line)

The track starts at Mlolongo and exits south.

Estimated cost of construction: $611 million

Additional annual cost of operation compared to other proposed routes: $3.55 million

Option 6: Lower South East Route (dark blue line)

Similar to above but starts lower down along Mlolongo and exits south.

Estimated cost of construction: $635 million

Additional annual cost of operation compared to other proposed routes: $3.55 million

Option 7: Athi River Route (pink line)

Athi river route follows the same route as Phase 1 of SGR, which has already taken park land. Athi river route requires significant modification from the Syokimau hub to operate. Requires parallel 2.5km bridge at Athi River. Still needs additional park land – 100 acres. KRC did not prefer this route as it would require double tracks to the marshalling yard.

Estimated cost of construction: $832 million

Additional annual cost of operation compared to other proposed routes: $12.34 million