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By Sharon Kiburi

The predicament surrounding the standard gauge railway(SGR) and the Nairobi national park can be likened to the question of the chicken and the egg and which one is more vital.

Except, the fact that it is clear the national park came before the Railway.

Nairobi National park is one of Kenya’s largest tourism heritage attracting people all over the world. As much as we need to embrace economic development should it be at the expense losing our co pride and heritage?

Conservationists have been suggesting an alternative routes that would not  see the mega project interfere with protected areas like Nairobi National Park.More so there are claims that the Environmental Impact Assessment that was done was flawed and no proper consultations were done.

Conservationists holding a proposed map with alternative routes for the standard Gauge Railway during a public hearing at Mai Mahiu /Clifford Akumu

Could it be the  government is in a hurry to fulfill its Jubilee manifesto to Kenyans which will give them a stepping ground in the next elections campaigns at the expense of the National park!!

Steve Itela ,Director, Partnership Development, Africa network for animal welfare,  says , “The  fast EIA (Environment Impact assessment) report of SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi Indicated that the Railway will not be passing through the Nairobi National Park then it was late using an addendum EIA achieved through a boardroom decision that did not follow the  due process indicated that it will pass by the national park. As a result the park will be losing about 100 Acre of land.  There was no  sufficient participatory process that would have looked at the adverse impact that SGR passing through the National park could cause.”

The Nairobi national park provides an ecosystem to more than approximately fifteen distinct  species of animals just to mention but a few include:  cape buffaloes, baboons, eastern black rhinos,Gazelles,Zebras,  cheetahs, Hippos, Leopards , Lions, Elands,  Impala,  giraffes, Ostriches, Vultures and Water bucks. This only shows that we can not afford to turn our back on this matter.

Kenya’s economy is at the take off stage where industrialization is taking prominence but how is it that we trying to develop one industry( transport and infrastructure) at the expense of an another industry (tourism industry) when we should be supporting all industries for Kenya’s economy to get to the drive to maturity stage hence improve the gross national product (GNP).

The government seems to ignore the law , the same law they swore to protect. The national park is supposed to be part the protected areas hence it is Illegal for the government to be building a railway in the park.  If the governing law makers have no respect for the law why should Kenyans be surprised when the citizens have no regard for the rule law?

Africa has good tropical climate which makes life for the animal easier. It  is the high time Africa embraces their natural resources and utilize them to boost  the economic growth that Kenya like any other African  country disparately needs. Tourism brings income which is also used for technological and economic growth just the same way railway will bring income.

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