Nairobi’s Southern Bypass goes ahead as the national park is set to give up land

The process of degazetting sections of the Nairobi National Park has, according to information received from Kenya’s capital, started in earnest to make land available for the completion of the Southern Bypass Highway, which will create another ring road around the city. Attempts last year to proceed with construction of the highway inside the park boundaries were stopped when a courtcase brought against the government effectively halted any entry into the park until such time that the Kenyan parliament, with which the changes rest, had approved to carve out a section of land.

The conservation community has promptly lamented the fact that leading companies had spent huge amounts of money and effort to grow trees along this particular stretch of the park, to create a buffer to the city, only to now learn that it will have been a wasted effort with little chance of receiving compensation to repeat the exercise after the park boundaries have been redrawn.

The affected part of the park begins as the intersection of the Southern Bypass with the main road from the airport into the city near the Ole Sereni Hotel, which can expect to be affected by the constant flow of traffic when the new highway is complete, and run along the present boundary to beyond Wilson Airport and the Carnivore Restaurant before joining up with a section which is nearly complete already.

The time frame for the degazetting is not yet clear though but will according to one regular source very likely be accelerated in order to progress construction in a timely manner, especially as the relevant approvals by NEMA appear to be in place already.

As reported last year will the Kenya Wildlife Service very likely get some major financial compensation for losing this section of land, allowing for the acquisition of more land at the opposite side of the park, leaving the park in fact slightly larger than before.

Conservationists however feel that once the precedent has been set and land been excised from the park once, that in the future more such decisions could go in favour of developers who might seek to acquire park land for housing estates, more roads, railway and industrial developments.

Nairobi is the only capital city in the world with a major national park within the city boundaries, which besides providing a green lung also provides recreational facilities for city dwellers as well as for foreign visitors, for many of whom a visit to the park is an almost mandatory part of their stay in Nairobi. Adjoining the park is the Silole Sanctuary, a 400 acres private property recently visited which provides an important buffer function for the park besides also being a destination in its own right as walking safaris, unlike inside the park, are allowed on the sanctuary. For more information about the national park itself and Silole Sanctuary visit www.kws.go.ke andwww.silolesanctuary.com

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Nairobi’s Southern Bypass goes ahead as the national park is set to give up land
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