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February 22, 2018

SGR route across Nairobi National park illegal, say four lobbies

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

Four environment lobbies have urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to cancel the launch of phase two of the standard gauge railway, which cuts into the Nairobi National Park.

They are the Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Nairobi Greenline Project, Centre for Climate Change Awareness and East African Wildlife Society. The launch is scheduled for September 26 though an environment impact assessment has not been conducted.

The lobbies say the launch is premature and could even be illegal.

The government’s preferred Naivasha route tears through the middle of the park for six kilometres, dividing it into two portions.

“The launch is premature. The president should hold on and listen to the views of others, not just those of government officials,” Nairobi Greenline Project coordinator Wanja Kimani said yesterday. Conservation groups say the route will suffocate the park and erode gains Uhuru made when he torched ivory in April.

Transport PS Irungu Nyakera said the government had considered seven routes but settled on the park rout because it is the second-cheapest option.

The longest route, which avoids the park, costs Sh10 billion more.

“Who has valued the park and seen it has less value? We get more value from the park. Economic gains, even through tourism, are inestimable. This park will generate money for generations to come. Once you allow development in the Nairobi National Park, it will be gone forever and the development will be irreversible,” Africa Network for Animal Welfare chief Josphat Ngonyo said. He said the construction would contravene the Wildlife Management Act and the Environment Management and Co-ordination (Amendment) Act.

Centre for Climate Change Awareness director Stephen Ndegwa said an environmental impact assessment must be done, even if the railway will pass through the park.

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