In the wake of the recent controversial decision to route the second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) through the Nairobi Nation Park, representative the Kenya Railways, Kenya Wildlife Service and conservation organisations met on 27 October to discuss how to maintain a balance between conservation and the need for infrastructure development.
They came up with the following recommendations:
Participants agreed that Kenya needs the SGR as it will spur economic growth, poverty alleviation and bring great benefits to the country.
The vast majority of the attendees were in agreement that the SGR should not go through the Nairobi National Park, saying that routing it through the park would damage it and the Kenyan president’s reputation as a champion of conservation in Africa.
Technical and and financial solutions must be found to enable the railway to to be re-routed so that Kenya continues to njoy the benefits of both the park and the and the SGR, the participants asserted.
Engineers should work with Kenya Railways to conduct technical assessments of alternative routes. Financial considerations to address the additional cost must be addressed, they added.
Participants voiced concern over what they said was apparent non-compliance with Kenyan laws, insisting that the rule of law must be upheld.
There was consensus that the SGR construction must comply with the law and other environmental protection legislation, including the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) that provides for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), the Wildlife Act, the constitution and international commitments such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The participants agreed that a major communications campaign through the media is needed to promote public awareness of the benefits of the Nairobi National Park and conservation in general.
As a first step, they proposed that an event be held in the park on 16 December 2016 to commemorate its 70th anniversary.