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EAWLS support the development of improved road infrastructure to relieve the traffic congestion and pressure that Nairobi now faces but is opposed to construction of a road inside Nairobi National Park

Let us state at the outset that we support the development of improved road infrastructure to relieve the traffic congestion and pressure that Nairobi now faces. But we are greatly concerned that the Southern Bypass road alignment is not compliant with the processes required by Kenya’s laws and by not following those processes, an alignment concerning 4 kms has emerged that could have been avoided, without hindrance to the construction of the Southern Bypass.

It is our understanding that the Kenya Cabinet recently approved the excision of 60 acres of the Nairobi National Park for the alignment of the Nairobi Southern Bypass. But since this involves degazettment of part of a National Park, the law is clear that only Parliament can take that decision. We believe that it is critical that all parliamentarians who will be involved in making this decision, should be adequately informed when considering this possible degazettement.

So why are we seriously concerned by the Southern Bypass being routed for a 4 km stretch along the edge of, but still within Nairobi National Park.

The Southern Bypass is not compliant with Kenyan law:

1. The road Southern Bypass proposal did follow the processes required by the Environment Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) which led to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) issuing an Environment licence (18 Feb 2011). However the licence clearly states in Construction Condition 2.2 that the proponent should not encroach on gazetted national parks (Nairobi National Park). Yet 4 kms of the road is aligned in the park and therefore constitutes a breach of EMCA
2. The EIA submitted to NEMA concerned a road by-pass. The road has been expanded into a corridor with 2 railway lines. Under these circumstances, EMCA requires a fresh proposal to be submitted to NEMA with a new EIA undertaken. This has not been done and indeed there does not appear to be a feasibility study showing the railway lines are even viable. The consequence of this is that the corridor is now 120 metres wide, thus encroaching even further into the National Park. The railway corridor also constitutes a breach of the License.

The Kenya Constitution has been betrayed
Our first concern therefore is that the Government is betraying the Constitution by not promoting and processing its plans in the manner which the laws of Kenya demand. This concern will be magnified if the current road alignment is continued with, which effectively means a degazettement of part of Nairobi National Park, but Parliaments authority for such degazettement, as required by law, has not been obtained.

Furthermore, we are being informed that Kenya Wildlife Service will receive Ksh 1.8 billion by way of compensation, if they agree to the degazettment. We find this unacceptable on two grounds. The Constitution does not give the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, or the KWS Board or KWS the mandate to enter any negotiation in regard to the disposal of public land. Secondly such money would be better invested in the construction of a Southern Bypass which respects rather than undermines the integrity of our national parks. This integrity is critical, given the enormous economic value of our wildlife based tourism sector.

Aligning the road inside the Nairobi Park is not based on valid or sound reasoning

1. The main justification for the current alignment reported by the Kenya Urban Road Authority is that the aviation safety requires 570 metres between the threshold of runway 14 at Wilson airport and the Bypass, forcing the Bypass to be routed through the Park. However, consultations with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority reveals that the regulations dealing with aviation safety, in particular obstacle restriction surface pertaining with a take-off runway, such as runway 14, would require that no object higher than 4 metres are placed in front of runway 14 along the fence between the airport and the park and this over a length of approximately 200 metres. The Bypass could, therefore, be routed along the boundary of the park (outside the park) and meet the aviation safety requirements, if the bypass go through a dip of 2 to 3 metres deep over a length of approximately 200 metres, i.e. a cutting is provided
2. We understand that the recently positioned oil pipeline running underground through the park would lie directly under the road, which, if correct, would render any maintenance and repair to that section of the pipeline impossible.
3. Vision 2030 expects tourism to be the main driver of economic growth and our National Parks are a main platform for this growth. Degazetting will send a very wrong message as well as setting a dangerous precedent for further degazettments
4. Nairobi National Park is unique in being the only wildlife park in a cosmopolitan city, which makes it very attractive to tourists and residents. Secondly for such a small park it has a very high biodiversity value. The park is part of Kenya’s priceless heritage.
5. Kenya argued strongly against the construction of a road inside Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, because of the impact it would on the ecosystem, in particular the Masai Mara wildebeest migration. Building this road in Nairobi National Park would contradict and significantly weaken our position on the Serengeti issue.

Land has already been excised for the corridor
In 1956 The Royal National Parks of Kenya agreed to excise 267 acres of land for a marshalling yard and another 75 acre for a bypass lane from Nairobi Park. The land given to the East African Railways and Harbours should have been used for the construction of the Southern Bypass and transport corridor. This land should be identified and returned and utilized for its original purpose.

Our position
The laws of Kenya must be followed to the letter. No degazettement of Nairobi National Park should be considered, until all options have been fully revisited and the law is completely and transparently complied with. We are willing to work with the relevant Government Agencies in considering such options in a constructive and proactive manner. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Roads has indicated that he is also willing to engage in such discussions. We therefore look forward to such discussions with the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Roads and his team, together with professional engineers and road contractors to seek a better route for the much needed Southern Bypass.

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