Steve Itela
Speech by CAK Interim Chairman Steve Itela on the Launch of the Conservation Alliance of Kenya
April 11, 2016
Statement from the Conservation Alliance of Kenya on Developments in Nairobi National Park
August 16, 2016
Ecoterra: SGR better Option YES no Maybe 2016

Possible alternative SGR scenarios. Photo: ECOTERRA Int'l.


But that doesn’t mean the railway planners have given up to clandestinely still try to push through their ill-conceived plans for the phase two of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Kenya.

Sporadic news revealed that the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) finally followed our rational argument to end the SGR Mombasa to Nairobi route (phase one)  at Syokimau and not venture further into the congested Nairobi city. At Syokimau KRC has enough land to build the new Inland Container Terminal (ICT) and move it from Embakasi. Our earlier proposal to have the ICT moved out completely and based at Athi River seems to not be further considered for now, though it would have the advantage that SGR goods-trains would not need to go beyond Athi River. The building of the SGR to Syokimau is now fact and the area around the former Cheetah gate of NNP as well as the line along the northern NNP border towards Mlolongo destroyed by the SGR. However, that did comparatively, so far, only limited damage to the park.

But KRC apparently wants to now cut right through the park from Syokimau towards the Hippo Pools at the parks southern fringe and then route westwards right through the immediate wildlife dispersal area and towards Twala, Ongata-Rongai, Bulbul through heavily settled spaces or precious forests and onto their ill-planned single-barrel tunnel into the rift from Kikuyu.

That tunnel alone would cost Kenyan taxpayers much more than any proper re-routing to the far South from where it could be routed along the traditional drift the Maasai used since centuries to bring their cattle from the Rift Valley onto the Kaputiei (sometimes wrongly called Kapiti) Plains and back down again – without any tunnel.

To “bridge” over the NNP from Syokimau with a kind of high-rise construct would also derail any future SGR expansion plans because it would be just a single rail with no space to expand to a double line – except if again billions would be sunk into another, second high-rise rail, which again would further damage the park. SGR passenger trains simply can go back from the Syokimau to Athi River and SGR goods trains likewise, if the have to deliver something to the ICT or immediately go from Athi river to the far southern route into the rift and then on to the Naivasha route.

It is  not really known why Transport Principal Secretary Wilson Nyakera obviously tries to confuse Kenyans with cost warnings and numbers crunching, while in reality the Kenyan taxpayer was already saved from excessive compensation costs in the range of 300 million US$ just for the Miotoni stretch by the wise decision of his superiors to not route the SGR through the BOMAS OF KENYA to MIOTONI area.

We must also say that the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Prof. Judi Wakhungu, is standing steadfast to not allow any further harm happen to NNP.
The demand by Kenyan citizens, protection and conservation groups as well as the international community is clear: NO ANY FURTHER HARM MUST BE ALLOWED TO DAMAGE NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK and its supporting ecosystem.
The compensations paid by KRC and the Transport Ministry to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for theSGR infringement at the far north-eastern border as well as for the Southern Bypass road at the park’s northern border should be used to purchase the ranch-land from the Goat- and Sheep Farm Project on the south-eastern side of the park as well as Silole Sanctuary, a conservancy at the southern park border, and integrate them into Nairobi National Park. Just pocketing money will not improve the ecosystem and ring-fencing the park will signal only the start of NNP being turned into a zoo with a rapid decline of its biodiversity.
If you look at it from the historical perspective: The struggle for Nairobi National Park, the ecosystem and its wildlife has succeeded actually since 127 years when it was declared in 1889 a protected area under the Great Southern Game Reserve.
That effort, the sacrifices of the original owners of that land – the Kaputiei Maasai – and the pristine area with its stunning wildlife diversity – including the precious rhinos and lions – must not be lost now and by this generation.
… and fear, as it is built up again in Kenyan civil society – and now pushed high with the recent grizzly torture and murder of Nairobi human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his driver, Joseph Muiruri and his client, Josephat Mwenda or the possible torture and assassination of outspoken government critic Jacob Juma – must not stop people from acting based on their constitutional rights against any harm to them and/or their natural environment.
Nairobi National Park Must Not Die!

News Resources:

New railway threatens Nairobi’s unique urban wildlife park
By Debora MacKenzie in Nairobi, Kenya -7 July 2016 – New Scientist

New Athi SGR route to cost Sh70bn—PS