Nairobi Park res­i­dents pe­ti­tion Uhuru against SGR

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

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.

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