Report: Parks have lost land to infrastructural projects
Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah
The country’s top 10 national parks and game reserves have lost some 3, 200 hectares of land to multi-million shilling infrastructural projects, a new report has established.
Report tabled before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Environment and Natural Resources revealed that, for instance, projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway, cuts through Tsavo and Nairobi National Parks.
Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife had two days ago laid bare the effects of human activities in the parks.
Ministry further fingered Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) and Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) for allegedly reneging on an agreement to pay Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) compensation amounting to Sh9.4 billion.
According to the report, the agencies only paid Sh6.2 billion, leaving a balance of Sh3.1 billion that has been a source of boardroom conflict between the three top government agencies in the last five years.
For instance, in the first phase of SGR construction in Tsavo National Park, Kenya Railways was supposed to pay Sh1.4 billion, which KWS says had been catered for restoration of environment and compensation for movement of structures.
“Kenya Railways paid Sh1.4 billion leaving a balance of Sh6 million. KWS management continues to demand payment of the remaining amount but KRC is yet to respond,” the ministry says.
KWS signed another grant for environmental easement with KRC for Phase 2A of SGR of Sh1 billion and six instalments of Sh500 million each, it says.
“To date, Sh3.5 billion has been paid and the remaining seven installments of Sh500 million was due in December 2018.”
Noting environment restoration had been allocated Sh192 to carter specifically for habitat restoration, management of invasive species, aerial surveillance and wildlife rescue, the report says, this amount fell due on December 30, 2015 but hasn’t been paid to date.
On the other hand, Kenha was supposed to pay KWS Sh3.7 billion for compensation since the Southern bypass had encroached Nairobi National Park land, but only paid Sh2.4 billion.
Despite escalating the matter to the parent Ministry of Transport, the report shows that kenha is yet to honour their part of the deal.
“In an effort to recover the balance, KWS made various follow ups but KeNHA is yet to honour the payments,” it adds.
Ministry says it is committed to ensuring ecological integrity and environmental sustainability is not compromised in the development of physical infrastructure “in order to conserve Kenya’s wildlife and its habitats for posterity.”