Maasai, lobby call for for new SGR route to spare national park
This rerouting will avoid disrupting ecosystems leading to the slow but sure death of the park, say conservationists
The Maasai community and conservationists yesterday proposed a new route for phase two of the standard gauge railway to save Nairobi National Park.
This comes as public resistance mounts to the government’s favoured plan that would bisect the park but run above it on a bridge supported by pillars.
The new proposal would spare the park and adjacent land that acts as a dispersal area for wildlife.
According to the proposed route seen by the Star, the SGR line would be diverted from Konza City, skirt further south behind Kitengela town, then run down to Isinya to Cor- ner Baridi to Ngong. “Re-routing the SGR South of Nairobi means the line can head either East or West of Ngong Hills,” the proposals says.
It adds that going through the park only leaves the East option.
“Our rationale for the rerouting demand will save government from putting up a tunnel on Kibiko and cut costs of putting up [bridge] elevations pillars if the park option has to be adopted,” said Steve Itela, chief of operations, Africa Network for Animal Welfare.
Itela said a simple junction further South of Nairobi National Park would enable cargo to head directly for Naivaisha or Nairobi. “The already constructed line to Nairobi and depot is still viable and there is no need for SGR to double back on itself,” he said.
Nkamuno Patita said having the line cut through the park will destruction the migratory corridors of wildlife. She is among those leading campaigns to have the SGR rerouted.
Patita said rerouting will avoid disrupting the ecosystem that may lead to ‘slow but sure’ death of the park.
The land south of Nairobi and Tuala has less economic value than the ‘priceless’ Nairobi National Park and the Empakasi-Oloosirkon area.
The density of human settlement is also much lower, hence, the SGR would have lower impact on wildlife and communitiey, she said.
“In addition to destroying our heritage, Ongata Rongai and surrounding areas are densely populated, so that land has greater value, meaning compensation will be higher. And thereis more infrastructure that will be demolished,” Patita said.