Published on 09 February 2012 in The Star by John Muchangi
Kenya Wildlife Service has been offered Sh1.8 billion as compensation to allow the Southern bypass road to cut through the Nairobi National Park. Roads PS Michael Kamau this is “reparation” for the 150 acres to be hived off the park. He said they explored other options including digging a tunnel to save the park, but they were not viable. “This is not compensation. It’s like reparation and will help KWS acquire more land to extend the park in the south,” he said. KWS board has been adamant to cede the park land and said any compensation should be at least ten times more the value of the land. Board member Hassan Noor said the Sh1.8 billion was just an estimate and they have no powers to give away park land. “MPs will need to debate change in park boundaries because KWS cannot do it without Parliaments approval,” he said at a forum organised by the Nairobi Greenline Initiative, who oppose the plan. The 28.6km dual carriageway connects Mombasa Road from Ole Sereni Hotel to Langata Road and moves through Kikuyu to Nakuru Highway. It runs along the Nairobi National Park and will arc deep into it at Wilson Airport. KWS says the 28,900-acre park will lose 150 acres of unique land rich in biodiversity. “We have been saying no for 20 years, but there is too much pressure,” Tom Sipul, KWS deputy director for corporate services, said recently. Kenya Urban Roads Authority said they are taking the land to reserve space for a planned railway link from Kikuyu to Nairobi. Director general Eng Joseph Nkadayo said KWS and Kenya Forest Service has already identified 1,000 acres of land to compensate for the 150 that will be lost. “They will acquire the land through compulsory acquisition. We are keeping the location secret to prevent inflation of land prices,” he said. Eng Nkadayo said creating a tunnel under the 4km section to Langata road is punitive and not viable. Nairobi Greenline says the tunnel can be constructed at the arc near Wilson Airport. The initiative was launched in February 2010 to grow 300,000 trees at the boundary of the Nairobi National Park from Cheetah Gate in Athi River to Carnivore Restaurant in Langata. “The proposed encroachment would destroy a section of the Greenline that has 50,000 planted trees. These have been planted by over 60 leading corporate companies in Kenya including Safaricom,” said chairman Pradep Paurana.