Balala now extends review of controversial Nairobi Park plan

Under the plan, a multi-billion ecolodge is to be put up inside the park.

In Summary

• Tourism CS Najib Balala has given the public more time to raise their concerns over plans to facelift the Nairobi National Park.

• Balala in a statement on Tuesday gave the public until the end of June for the submissions.

A lioness at the Nairobi National Park
A lioness at the Nairobi National Park

Tourism CS Najib Balala has given the public more time to raise their concerns over plans to facelift the Nairobi National Park.

Balala in a statement on Tuesday gave the public until the end of June for the submissions.

The deadline for comments and views on the draft plan was Sunday.


“The public participation shall be extended for the public to raise their concerns or support so that analyses and improvement of the plan can be undertaken for the public interest,” Balala said in a statement signed by Ahmed Elmawi, the acting head of communications.

The Kenya Wildlife Service's Draft Management Plan 2020-2030 has proposed a facelift to the park “to improve its attractiveness”. 

Under the plan, a multi-billion ecolodge will also be put up.

The management considered whether to maintain the status quo or improve the habitat through controlled burning, mowing and mineral supplementation.

The third option was to enclose the entire park with a predator-proof fence.

The last option was to improve the park habitat by progressively fencing off willing landowners in the park’s buffer zone.

KWS has identified 12 issues that threaten the park founded in 1946.


They are habitat loss and fragmentation in the dispersal areas, the decline in the wildlife population, poaching, human-wildlife conflict, alien and invasive species, pollution, mining and quarries.

Others are climate change, low park visitation, increased urbanisation, settlement threats on the sheep and goats ranch and infrastructure development.

KWS admits that it may have contributed to the challenges facing the 117-square-kilometre park. by allowing mega projects inside and on the periphery of the park.

These include the Southern Bypass and Internal Container Depot roads.

The Southern Bypass passes through the park, and it has cut off a section of the park that borders Wilson Airport. The impacts of this road include noise and air pollution from traffic plying the road.

There are old and new pipelines passing through the park as well as wayleaves.

Overhead power pylons and underground power cables have also been constructed in the park.

Six kilometres viaduct to hold the Standard Gauge Railway has been constructed across the park. There is a need to paint it to blend with the environment and minimise visual intrusion.

The plan has however raffled feathers of the conservationists who have warned that the plan will lead to the end of the park.

Balala made a U-turn following the mounting objections.

Friends of Nairobi National Park protested the facelift in a letter dated April 17 where they insisted that the plan will lead to the end of the park.

FoNNaP says it has no objects to 90 of the 122 objectives of the draft plan.

“We are in full agreement to 90 of those actions, in other words, about 75 per cent.”

However, they have issues with 32 planned actions.

“We, therefore, ask that you stop the process of formulation and pending approval of this document until the current state of the country improves and we are no longer faced with restrictions due to Covid-19,” the FoNNaP said, recommending a minimum of three months.

Moreover, a group of environmentalists have called for an audit of the built structures in Nairobi National Park before a proposed facelift can take place.

The 45 conservationists are graduates of environmental studies from Kenyatta University. 

The group of environmentalists said the review will establish the viability of proposed measures.

It will also show whether environmental impact assessments were conducted and their outcome.

The audit would also allow for a renewed focus on biodiversity, natural resource and sustainability planning for the parks, game reserves and wildlife ecosystems in the country.

They worried that the proposed developments in the park pose a serious threat to the sustainability of the biodiversity. 

“There has been observed encroachment into the park over the past few years that have not only put the flora and fauna at risk but have also breached the ethos for which the nation stands for with regards to biodiversity protection,” part of their letter said.

The letter is copied to the Kenya Wildlife Service director-general John Waweru, the acting director-general National Environment Management Authority Mamo Mamo, CS Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala and Environment CS Keriako Tobiko.

The group said the regulations guiding the management of the park outlived their validity period in 2010.

They said the outbreak of coronavirus offers an opportunity for introspection into the human-wildlife nexus and how to provide proper guidelines for protection, conservation and implementation of management frameworks.

The group said the public must be allowed a say in the draft plan.

The progress of this process will compromise citizen participation and the opportunity to exercise their right. 


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