MEDIA ACCUSED TO BE ‘ILL INFORMED AND SENSATIONALIST RUMOUR MONGERS‘
(Posted 21st August 2016)
(Conservation groups are trying to bring down the railway line through the Nairobi National Park by strictly legal means / Picture source NairobiWire)
There is growing outrage and anger over the present violations of a range of laws and regulations vis a vis the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway section from Nairobi to Naivasha, which has blazed its way into the National Park with no environmental and social impact assessment in place nor any public hearings as required by law.
The Chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service only made matters worse when he triggered a social media s***storm after basically accusing mainstream and social media journalists of being ill informed, sensationalist and in effect rumour mongers prompting one leading conservationist in turn to spit fire back at him: ‘This is a dangerous precedent. We are showing a remarkable lack of respect for relevant laws. You ask around the world about this park and everyone knows it. Why then risk Kenya’s reputation abroad, the standing of the world’s only national park outside a capital city? Alternative bypass routes have been shown so why are they not even taking a serious look at it. This is an unmitigated PR disaster and it reflects badly on our country and even more so on the KWS chairman who is at the centre of the storm now. You helped expose the Serengeti Highway plans a few years ago, please also expose this impending conservation atrocity‘, understandably on condition of anonymity.
Indeed it appears that construction has illegally advanced into the park, putting the park managers on the spot besides NEMA which has been urged to act.
In fact it was KWS chairman Dr. Richard Leakey who last year came up with the ludicrous suggestion that the road across the Serengeti could be built on a bridge and he is now under the spotlight as the railway construction also appears to be using as similar bridge concept. This however effectively cuts the park into two sections as much of the route will not consist of bridges effectively blocking game movements along the most part of what has been termed an illegal route.
The same sources also fingered the Kenyan electricity transmission company for running a high voltage line across the park while expressing fears that other public utility companies too may be eyeing a ‘cost effective‘ route through the park where they can avoid paying compensation or having to opt for more expensive construction methods.
‘It almost seems that if you can put enough money on the table you can get away with almost anything in the park. What if a property developer comes up and puts say 25 or 50 or even 100 billion on the table to create a posh estate for billionaires? I think you see where this potentially goes, that money trumps conservation, by the look of it, any time‘ ranted another regular conservation source from Kenya.
FoNNAP, short for Friends of Nairobi National Park and other conservation NGO’s and individuals are presently brainstorming on the way forward but all indications are that the matter will head to the Kenyan courts to first obtain a permanent injunction against any further encroachment of the park. The next step then would be to attempt to get a court ruling to compel Kenya Railways and the Chinese contractors to find a route around the park, probably based on suggestions seen and published here recently.
With the controversy gone public in a high profile way and the social and mainstream media reporting gathering momentum it is anyone’s guess at present how the Kenyan government will handle this and more so, what the increasingly independent court system will have to say when the inevitable cases have been filed.