The Kenyan government has approved the construction of a road that slices through the Nairobi National Park.
The Southern Bypass is planned to be a 120-metre wide transport corridor that will connect Mombasa Road from Ole Sereni Hotel to Lang’ata Road through Kikuyu to the Nakuru Highway. It will run along the borders of Nairobi National Park, but cut into the park at Wilson Airport. This arc will remove about 150 acres of land from the 28,900 acres that the park consists of.
These plans have already encountered massive protest from conservation organisations. The East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS) has said that an environmental impact assessment licence that was issues last year is being violated by the construction of the road. “Failing to respect the integrity of Kenya’s national parks undermines Vision 2030, which expects tourism to be a main drivier of economic growth”, said EAWLS director Nigel Hunter.
Nema (National Environmental Management Act) is mandated to assess the environmental impact that projects such as these will cause. The license issued forbids Kenya from encroaching on Nairobi National Park. “The Kenya National Highways Authority is expected to adhere to the conditions of the license and hence ensure that there is no encroachment of the Nairobi National Park during the construction of the Bypass,” Geoffrey Wahungu, chief executive officer of the National Environmental Management Authority said.
Yet construction started in March and has already ruined many acres of the park as well as the Ngong Forest which consists of only 2 000 acres in total.
Nairobi National Park is home to over 100 species of mammals and is a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino, but this bypass will put the park at risk of further development, thereby putting the wildlife and their natural habitat in danger.
*Image courtesy of Derek Keats.