The Kenyan conservation fraternity and environmental pressure groups are gearing up for the second battle of the Nairobi National Park when news emerged, that after the Southern Bypass Highway the new Standard Gauge Railway route now also demands to be given over 215 acres of park land to, what a railway spokesperson called ‘… avoid demolishing economically high value installations that require heavy compensation’ – in other words it is once again all about the money.
This attempt to carve out more land from an already under siege national park, makes the Kenya National Highway Authority’s demand for about 90 acres pale in comparison, as Kenya Railways now demands more than twice that much, after already carving out a major section of park land from Tsavo National Park to facilitate the construction of the Mombasa to Nairobi section.
‘Where will it end’ did a regular conservation source from Nairobi ask what can only be taken as a rhetorical question, as no one will apparently be able to guarantee the continued integrity of the park, after that the threshold has been crossed by KenHA.
Clearly there seems to be no end to demands for park land now after the Highway Authority breached the defenses of the conservation fraternity standing up for the park and as suspected has this only encouraged others to demand for the same equal treatment.
‘Yesterday it was the Southern Bypass, today it is the railway, tomorrow it will be a well-connected land developer with plenty of money who will demand he should be given 200 or even 1000 acres for a gated estate for other money bags. Then there will be other road developments no doubt which also want park land. Government has failed us, they are supposed to be the custodians of our protected areas and not savage them at will and parcel them out for what they call development’ said another source last evening when discussing this latest threat to the park. He then added ‘The migration routes into and out of the park are almost entirely gone now. Again has our government failed to protect those routes in contradiction to commitments made. They are creating a concrete jungle in and around Nairobi. Just wait, they will revisit the plans to take land out of Nakuru National Park next for the bypass highway around Nakuru and when the new railway reaches what assurance do we have that those guys also want land to cross through the park; they will say any other route will be too expensive to compensate and after all, the precedent has been set in Nairobi’.