NEMA’s Southern Bypass License prohibits use of national park land

Following information received some weeks ago that the East Africa Wildlife Society, ANEW African Network for Endangered Wildlife and Dr. Paula Kahumbu were seeking to take government to court over the routing of the Southern Bypass through the Nairobi National Park, has NEMA now too gone on record. NEMAs Executive Director was quoted overnight in a mail from a regular conservation source in Nairobi to have threatened to withdraw the license granted if any of the terms and conditions would be altered by government or disrespected by the contractors. George Wahungu reportedly said: The Kenya National Highways Authority is expected to adhere to the conditions of the licence and hence ensure that there is no encroachment of the Nairobi National Park during the construction of the Bypass which was issued in February 2011 and specifically prohibits any encroachment of national park land. Government however two weeks ago took a cabinet decision to permit the route to cut into the park land and carve out at least 150 acres, some sources claim it will be more in fact, while beyond the park the equally protected Ngong Forest is said to be even more affected. Similar plans also emerged last year over plans leaked to the media of attempts to have a bypass highway around Nakuru routed through the Lake Nakuru National Park, which equally saw emotions running high at the time.
Conservationists see their case as a litmus test of being able to stop government, this one and future ones, to be categorically stopped from touching even one square inch of that land, as it would set the precedent for future incisions into park land for either leisure projects at the edge of the park or housing estates, where the sheer value of the land so near the capital would have developers salivate over the prospects of making an absolute fortune of it. Social networks like Twitter and respective Facebook pages are awash with comments, overwhelmingly opposing the use of park land while equally though questions are asked where the bypass should be routed to avoid the park and yet be financeable. Questions galore and few answers until very likely a court will decide and the decision then be appealed to the highest court in Kenya. Watch this space.