Nyandarua eyes Aberdare Forest to expand town


Illegal logging at the Aberdare Forest in Nyeri. Nyandarua wants a slice of the water tower to expand Ndaragwa township. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

Nyandarua County has renewed its bid to hive off 163 acres from Aberdare Forest to expand Ndaragwa township, its dairy market and animal feed manufacturing hub.

In its application to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Nyandarua County government says it has already presented a new request to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) for leasing of 44.530 hectares for public use, including the setting up of essential utilities like sewerage treatment facilities, sludge disposal unit, toilets and garbage disposal.

The move sponsored by two-time MP Jeremiah Kioni is seeking land for commercial development, which will transform Ndaragwa from a 38.5-acre dusty unplanned town into a 163-acre well-planned commercial hub.

Ndaragwa’s expansion plan has been on the cards for decades with Nyandarua County and the defunct District Development Committee unanimously approving hiving off forest land.

The proposal prompted a survey of the forest’s new boundaries to pave the way for settlement areas, public facilities as well as an industrial hub. An environmental and social impact assessment study report prepared by UDELC Consultants supports hiving off 163 acres, saying this would have minimal adverse effects on the biodiversity in the forest.

Ndaragwa township is home to the giant Nyala Dairy Co-operative Society as well as its animal feeds factory.

The dairy activities now support agro-based commercial activities with several banks having opened branches to tap new business from the local dairy farmers.

Lead expert Fridah Wilumila Mugo said the proposed variation would not majorly affect any rare endangered, threatened species (RETS) since there are none documented or found within the area proposed for excision.

“The positive impacts of the proposed boundary variation include the addition of more land for infrastructure and amenity development, increase of land available for housing, increased investment, employment and economic activities,” she said.

The Nema has since invited comments from interested stakeholders within the next 30 days before deciding on the application.

Upon approval by Nema, Nyandarua County would prepare a comprehensive local physical and land use development plan, setting the stage for the town’s planned development in a controlled manner.