The Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) has sought to allay fears that Uhuru and Central parks have been grabbed, saying that the two recreational centres are undergoing renovations and will be open to the public in February next year.
The two parks, located adjacent to Nairobi City centre, have been closed for a more than a month now to allow for the upgrade.
According to NMS head of strategic communications Tony Mbarine, the upgrade of the two parks will continue until February when people will again be allowed to access the recreational areas.
Allaying fears that Uhuru Park has been grabbed by a private developer, Mr Mbarine clarified that NMS is upgrading the parks using their own contractors and not a private contractor and “there is no way we can do the upgrade while the park is open”.
“The parks have been outdated. A lot of things were not working and we are just doing what should have been done 20 years ago. By February, they (Uhuru and Central Parks) will be open and they will look beautiful,” said Mr Mbarine.
He said the renovation exercise involves fitting in modern facilities and amenities which the parks have been lacking with the parks being neglected for many years hence the need for an upgrade.
Mr Mbarine pointed out that the basic facilities at the parks were built for people in 1960’s and 80’s who were less than one million at the time but now Nairobi has over four million residents.
“The grass has not been managed well where it was more weeds than grass, no services, no amenities like proper toilets, no activities for kids except bouncing castles and others brought from outside. We are now improving the features by putting up facilities that will make the parks look modern,” he said.
“NMS was created to undo things that have been done wrong as well as do things for public good. This is our chance to fix the park,” added Mr Mbarine.
The two parks were closed for renovations last month after Nairobi MCAs approved a motion to rehabilitate the two iconic public parks decrying that they are in a deplorable state.
The motion by Majority Leader Abdi Guyo sought to have the parks urgently closed to allow for their rehabilitation to restore them to their former glory.
Mr Guyo said the iconic parks have suffered years of neglect and are in a state of disrepair, and risk losing their appeal, historical significance and recognition should their deteriorating situation not be remedied.
He explained that rehabilitation and retrofitting of urban parks and green spaces in Nairobi County is part of the presidential legacy project and therefore needs the full support of the county.
However, he decried that the two parks, among few such public parks with historical and national significance, now risk losing their international appeal, recognition and status given the neglect they have suffered over the years.
Nairobi County retains, operates and maintains various parks and green spaces such as Uhuru Park, Central Park, Michuki Memorial Park, Jamhuri Park, Jeevanjee Gardens and Uhuru Gardens.