Court stops Uhuru Park renovation after outcry


City residents at Uhuru Park on February 21, 2021. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

A court has stopped the ongoing renovation of Uhuru Park, dealing a blow to one of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) legacy projects ahead of the end of its two-year term’s expiry in March 2022.

In the order Justice Edward Wabwoto issued, the NMS and its contractors or agents have been stopped from felling trees or carrying out any works at the park.

While ruling on an application the Communist Party of Kenya filed challenging the project, the judge found that the exercise was commissioned without authority and approval of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

“Nema, while supporting the application, admitted that no environmental effects and social assessment reports have been submitted to it for consideration in respect of the project. As such, no environmental impact and social assessment licence had been issued,” said the Environment and Land Court judge yesterday.

“The evidence before this court shows that the respondents did not only breach the provisions of Section 28 and 59 of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act, but also article 69(1) of the Constitution, which provides that the State shall ensure sustainable exploitation, utilisation, management and conservation of the environment,” said the judge.

He found that NMS and its Director-General did not place any evidence before the court showing that they carried out a study on the likely impact to the environment.

He said the environmental assessment is mandatory adding that the petitioners have a strong case against NMS.

The court order will remain in force pending the determination of the case, whose hearing is scheduled to start on February 1, 2022.

The petitioners, through lawyer Nelson Havi, are also pushing for disclosure of the financial budget for the project, who won the tender to do the renovations and whether the due process of procuring their services was followed.

They also want disclosure on whether the project is publicly owned, whether it is a public-private partnership project and whether the Park would be freely accessible to the public after the renovations are completed.

They told the court that the project does not also adhere to principles of public finance that require the County Executive Committee member for finance to involve the public in all finance matters.

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