Kenya Railways has proposed to construct an access road linking the Nairobi Inland Container Depot and the Southern bypass road in Nairobi, Kenya.
The proposed access road will have a total length of approximately 4.153km long and 21m wide. Starting at the west entrance of the ICD running through the inner boundary of the Nairobi National Park and the end forming a partial “pear-shaped “interchange with the Southern bypass road.
Environmental experts have submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to the effect that the project will have a negative impact on the Nairobi National Park resulting in loss of habitat, vegetation, and compromising with the ability to provide vital ecosystem services.
Construction of the road may also cause change in wildlife behaviour due to disturbance effects that might be felt beyond the confines of the edges of the road, further says the report.
Public consultations for the project resulted in many people calling for the establishment of an alternative route for the project instead of the current project.
The other alternatives include construction of the access road along the outer boundary of the Nairobi National Park, construction of the access road under the Nairobi National Park as a tunnel linking it to the Southern Bypass road or abandoning the project altogether
In total, the project as designed is expected to utilize more than 20 acres of land in the inner boundary of the eastern side of the National Park. As a result, environmental experts have advised the proponent of the project to compensate for this land by purchasing at least 10 times or more of similar land on the southern side of the park that is currently in danger of being fully developed thus preventing migration of wildlife.
Further, the purchased land must be subsequently gazetted as protected land belonging to Nairobi National Park. This will not only compensate for land but also aid in the conservation efforts for the Park.
They have also asked the proponent to compensate for loss of existing support facilities to the Park which include, the boundary fence, offices and wardens camp that will be lost to the project by constructing similar facilities the before work on the proposed road commences. In addition, the proponent is therefore advised to facilitate replanting of trees, shrubs and grass inside the park as directed by KWS.
The experts also noted that the proposed project is an important infrastructure that will link the Nairobi inland container depot and the southern bypass road enabling smooth and faster transportation of freight into the hinterland of the Northern corridor. This will enhance the ICD’s objective of decongesting the port of Mombasa as well as decongest Mombasa and other nearby feeder roads.
The City’s national park has recently come under a lot of encroachment pressure from various government as well as private interests including the standard gauge railway project. It remains to be seen whether and how the project will be implemented.