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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Nairobi National Park Bypass

A new bypass could destroy the migration to Nairobi National Park

What's it all about?

Some leading environmentalists are raising concern for this new Bypass which they claim will destroy the migration of wildebeest and zebra into the Nairobi National Park

What bypass?
The proposal, financed by the Chinese, is to construct the "Greater Southern bypass" near the Nairobi National Park .This is not the Southern bypass which goes north of the Nairobi Park, but the road that goes south of the Park. The Greater Southern by-pass will link the Mombasa highway with Nairobi- Narok- Bomet- Kisii highway at Suswa. The road will be constructed from Lukenya through Kitengela-Ongata Rongai to Ngong where it will branch into two; one heading to Rironi while the other runs up to Suswa.

What are they saying?
If constructed along the proposed route, this road will effectively strangle Kenya’s oldest and one if her most important National Parks, and Nairobi’s greatest asset, the Nairobi National Park. The highway will sever the migration routes of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, Cokes hartebeest, eland, Grants gazelle, Thompson’s gazelle, and many other wildlife species including endangered cheetah and lions which depend on the land south of the National Park. The Nairobi Park is dependent on this wildlife resource for its acclaim and the wildlife depends on the Park for its survival during the dry season.

Nairobi Park is a globally recognized model park because of its location in a capital city. It is Kenya’s oldest National Park and is visited by tens of thousands of visitors (both international and local) every year; is a major environmental education resource for Kenya and generates over US $500,000 annually from park fees alone.

Is all the tourist industry against this bypass?
Not necessarily. Many feel that urban creep so close to this huge city is inevitable. The traffic jams are so bad now that it is affecting tourist transfers to and from central Nairobi, Wilson airport and JKIA international airport. These new bypasses are essential to get traffic moving again and there is bound to be some effect on this National Park within the city. Some believe the key is to find a balance between the inevitable growth of this burgeoning African capital, and the protection of this unique and valuable park with its wildlifecorridors.

What is the solution?
Environmentalists are offering to provide an environmental, social and economic justification for an alternative and less damaging route that involves upgrading an existing road network south of the Nairobi Park via Malili, Konza, Isinya, Kiserian and Ngong. This proposal will bring major social and economic benefits to the communities who live along that existing road, and will not lead to major degradation of this important ecosystem.

Alternatively, others suggest that tunnels for the proposed road could be built in places allowing the migration to continue as before. The benefits derived from constructing wildlife crossings to extend wildlife migration corridors over and under major roads, appear to outweigh the costs of construction and maintenance and have been used successfully in other parts of the world.

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