Tribunal Stops Construction of Phase 2A of Standard Gauge Railway Project from Nairobi-Naivasha

The National Environment Tribunal yesterday ordered the Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC) to stop the construction of Phase II (Nairobi-Naivasha) of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) until it determines whether a proper environmental impact assessment was done.

Activist Okiya Omtatah and the Kenya Coalition for Wildlife Conservation (KCWC) filed the matter seeking to repeal the Environmental Impact Assessment License issued by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in January.

The petitioners asserted that the report from which the licence was issued had been conducted under suspicious circumstances, without consulting institutions responsible for wildlife and environment conservation.

They further alleged that the route mapped out for the project went through land owned by the Kenyatta family and other politically connected individuals in order to increase the value of these properties.

Part of the railway is also said to be passing through the Nairobi National Park and is, therefore, likely to cause human-wildlife conflict.

"Construction of the SGR through the park is proposed to take 18 months during which time the park will suffer great risk of poachers, disturbance and traffic. There is no proper justification at all to allow the project to proceed," the lobbyists urged.

Thr tribunal explained the delay in offering a ruling citing that they had to conduct extensive research in their statement.

"It is clear when there is an appeal to the tribunal concerning environmental issues, the status quo is maintained until the dispute is determined. Thus, this is to direct that all activities relating to construction of Phase 2A of the SGR be stopped until the appeal is determined," the tribunal ordered.