No deal has been reached to allow the standard gauge railway to run through the Nairobi National Park, KWS chairman Richard Leakey has said.
Last Friday, Kenya Railways Corporation chairman Jeremiah Kianga, Kenya Wildlife Service’s Leakey, National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri met and announced that they had reached an agreement to allow realigning the SGR line to encroach into the Nairobi National Park. The proposed alignment would save the government paying out huge compensations for industries and houses that were on the original SGR path.
The announcement has reignited immense opposition from the conservationists who vow that they will not allow any trade-off between wildlife and development. But responding to questions yesterday, Leakey said the deal had not yet been finalised as reported earlier.
“When I came to chair the board the director general brought to my attention SGR matter which had been discussed for two years without resolution. We will be open in addressing this matter, as for now no land has been lost,” he said.
He said people present in last Friday’s meeting disagreed on some issues and a technical committee had been set up to seek answers to questions raised, particularly by KWS.
Leakey said contentious issues need to be solved before a deal can be reached, but he declined to comment further on the discussions. Swazuri said they agreed on several issues, including elevating three bridges along the lines and building 13-metre high bridges along Athi river so the structures do not interrupt wildlife movement.
“What is remaining is to put ink to paper and hopeful by July 31 we will be able to sign the deal,” he said. Conservationists under Friends of Nairobi National Park have criticised the supposed ‘deal’, arguing that stakeholders were not involved. They said the realignment will cause crucial habitation to be hived off, citing the area between Kappa and Cheetah Gate near Mlolongo, which is a rhino habitation area. The conservationists said legal procedure of protecting areas has not been followed to allow the hive-off.
– See more at: The Star