Nairobi Park residents petition Uhuru against SGR
Residents around the Nairobi National Park have urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop the standard gauge railway from bisecting the preserve until the legal process is followed. “Nairobi National Park is heritage for all Kenyans. Allowing its destruction would be betrayal to our fore fathers and future generations,” reads part of a petition handed over to the President’s office. “Our forefathers, including founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, made a commitment to conserve the country’s exceptional natural ecosystems.” The residents said allowing the project to cut through the park would violate Jomo Kenyatta’s wish. On September 18, 1963, Jomo declared that his government will conserve the country’s natural resources at all costs. Residents say the project’s feasibility study is yet to be conducted. They say consultations with the local community and conservationists on the impact of the SGR have not been carried out. “At the opening of the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, you made a welcome statement that the environment must not be an afterthought,” the petition says. Teresia Lesian, who lives next to Maasai Gate, said human-wildlife conflict will increase if the project proceeds as planned. “Our children will just hear that there was a lion before. This is what we do not want,” she said. Lesian said the SGR will destroy wildlife behaviour. The community says Jomo swore to protect and uphold the country’s environmental and wildlife laws. The park must be left intact, they say. The community said the Maasai community gave up their land for conservation in line with the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act. The act states that the land donated or bequeathed shall not be used for any other purposes other than the establishment of wildlife conservation. “We beseech you, Mr President, to lead us in protecting our heritage and our ecosystems. Do not sacrifice our future environmental health for the sake of development.” Residents held a protest from Freedom Corner before presenting the petition at Harambee House and later moved to the KWS headquarters.