The body that conserves and manages wildlife in Kenya on Wednesday denied reports that a road was being constructed through the Nairobi National Park in the capital Nairobi after a photo appearing to indicate that went viral.
In the photo, about four lions are seen resting on top of a heap of dug up soil next to an excavator with the standard gauge railway line seen in the background.
Speculation online was that an expressway was being built through the park from the city’s inland container depot.
“KWS has recently noted reports appearing in social media platforms insinuating that there is a new express way road being built next to the SGR passing through Nairobi National Park. This is not true, and a total misrepresentation of the facts,” the Kenya Wildlife Service said in a statement.
The KWS said that a local contractor had been engaged by the institution to improve a road connecting its headquarters to a central workshop inside the park.
“Currently, he is scooping murram from a quarry near the Standard Gauge Railway for use on the existing murram road,” the statement added.
The KWS reassured the public that every effort will be made to restore the area in which the soil was dug up.
“The contractor will rehabilitate the quarry pit after completing the works on the road in accordance with an Environmental Management Plan approved and availed to him by KWS management.”
A petition had even been initiated, before the circulation of the photo, to collect 15,000 signatures to protect the existence and purity of the park. The petition demands that the Kenyan government halt all infrastructural development within the park and no fencing takes place in the sheep and goat land to allow the community to access their cultural resources. It also demands that the park and its corridor dispersal areas be declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
The petition argues that whatever happens to the Nairobi National Park will set a benchmark for what will happen to other indigenous lands in Kenya and the continent in general. The last check showed that the petition had gathered 12,895 signatures.
The Nairobi National Park is the only protected area in the world with a variety of animals and birds in a capital city and a major tourist attraction for Kenya. It has long been under threat from land grabbing by government officials and wealthy individuals for urbanization and development.
Source: CGTN AFRICA