Nairobi, April 30 – The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, has ordered the suspension the construction of an amusement park in Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National Park, according to a statement issued by his ministry.
Balala also ordered the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to suspend three senior officials reponsible for managing the park, pending investigations into how permission was granted to build the facility.
“Henceforth, Idyllic Mistley House [the company inloved in the construction of the so-called Adventure Sports Park] has been directed to suspend all the activities related to the project and directed to vacate the site with immediate effect,” the statement said.
It added that the KWS Board of Trustees had granted a provisional letter of commitment for the project subject to the following conditions:
- The project to occupy approximately 5 acres of land at an old staff camp site;
- Structures be eco-friendly and easily dismantled and carted away;
- The proponent to carry out a feasibility study;
- The project activities to have environmental mitigation plans;
- All building plans be approved by Kenya Wildlife Service;
- The project be subjected to an Environmental Impact Assessment.
The statement by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said that Idyllic Mistley House embarked on construction “without meeting the conditions stipulated above.”
Conservationists had voiced concern over the damage to biodiversity that having an amusement facility in the park could cause.
According to KWS, Hell’s Gate, named for the intense geothermal activity within its boundaries, is a remarkable part of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.
Some of the wildlife to be found there include the African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle and baboons are common. The park is also home to klipspringer antelope and Chandler’s mountain reedbuck.
A wild variety of birdlife, an estimated 100 species of birds, including including vultures, Verreaux’s Eagles, augur buzzard and swifts, can also be found in the park.
Hell’s Gate is also known for its spectacular scenery, including the towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub clad volcanoes and belching plumes of geothermal steam that make it one of the most atmospheric Parks in Africa.