Tuesday October 22, 2019-Environmental activists and public interest litigation advocates are on high alert after it emerged that the proposed Westlands-JKIA expressway would cut through a significant chunk of Uhuru Park.
President Uhuru Kenyatta last week launched the 27-kilometres highway that will be constructed by China Roads and Bridge Company (CRBC) – a company owned by the Government of China.
The terms of the contract were not availed to the public even as it emerged that CRBC would be given sole powers to manage and charge toll fees for twenty-six years in a bid to recover the construction cost.
Works on the road are expected to start immediately and projected to be complete by 2023.
This is as it emerged that there was no public participation which would have included a disclosure of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the effect of the road on the public environment.
Revelation that the road would slice through Uhuru Park has elicited a public debate, with prominent public opinion leaders swearing to do everything possible to stop the encroachment of a prestigious public space.
“Nairobi Express Highway said to be cutting through Uhuru Park, surely the Public is entitled to full & accurate information, extent of the encroachment? Public views/participation?” Senior Counsel Paul Muite said.
“People in Nairobi have nowhere to breathe. Has GoK not even seen how Uhuru Park is packed on Sundays because there are no spaces for family recreation? Yet they own 500ha and relax at golf clubs. Muigai is like King Ahab stealing from Naboth,” Wandia Njoya complained on Twitter.
"Thank you for sharing this. Too bad that our laureate and mentor Prof. Wangari Maathai is no longer here to lead us in opposing this encroachment. That baton was passed to us...#LeaveUhuruParkAlone," former IEBC Commissioner Dr Roselyne Akome tweeted.
In the late 1980s, a previous plan by President Daniel arap Moi’s government, to build a mega business complex in a section of the park, was defeated after a spirited protest campaign led by the late Wangari Mathai.
The Kenyan DAILY POST