Nairobi, April 17 (Swara) – A court in Kenya has issued an injunction against the proposed construction of the Ihithe-Ndunyu Njeru Road through the Aberdare National Park and Forest Reserve. Environmental conservationists have warned of far-reaching negative ecological repercussions if the project is implemented.

On April 16, a judge in the Environment and Lands court in the central town of Nyeri ruled that the construction of the road should not commence until the plaintiffs and respondents have presented their cases before the court.

Judge Kossy Bor stated, “A conservatory order is hereby issued to preserve the Aberdare National Park and Forest Reserve by stopping the respondents or their agents from continuing the planned construction or any activity concerning the construction of the Ihithe-Ndunyu Njeru Road… pending inter-parties hearing of the application on April 29, 2024.”

The lawsuit, spearheaded by the East African Wild Life Society and a coalition of conservation organisations, follows a decision by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to issue an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) permit, greenlighting the construction of the road. This decision disregarded warnings from the environmental conservation fraternity about the project’s adverse ecological impacts.

The Aberdare National Park and Forest Reserve is Kenya’s significant water catchment area alongside Mount Kenya. It provides water to rivers such as the Tana River, Ewaso Nyiro, River Malewa, and Athi River, with River Malewa contributing to Lake Naivasha’s water.

Water catchment areas like the Aberdare ecosystem are crucial for maintaining ecological balance, regulating water flow, and providing essential ecosystem services.

The Aberdare National Park, a potential UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to various rare and endangered wildlife species. The proposed road threatens the habitat of critically endangered species, such as the mountain bongo antelope, with fewer than 100 individuals remaining in the wild.

Environmentalists have suggested an alternative route, the Kariamu-Ndaragwa route, to avoid the adverse impact on the Aberdares. They advocate for sustainable development practices safeguarding the country’s natural heritage for future generations.