Kenya finds itself at a crossroads between development and environmental conservation as construction work on a 600 million US Dollars Chinese-funded highway in Nairobi gets underway.
Environmentalists have raised alarm over the felling of trees in the city to pave way for the highway, touted as Kenya’s solution to traffic jams.
While authorities have promised to protect Green spaces, environment activists feel the is not enough and political will to ensure further destruction stops.
Once complete, the Nairobi Expressway will cut travel times across the city by several hours, according to the Kenya National Highway Authority (KENHA). But there is a problem.
In its wake, the proposed highway is leaving a trail of environmental destruction and bare land despite a growing chorus of protests and opposition from Kenyans and environmental activists alike.
Despite a court petition, the bulldozers continue their roar down the busy highway.
Director at the Wangari Maathai Foundation, Elizabeth Wathuti says: “Our greatest concern is that there is an ongoing petition in court at the national environmental tribunal, and of course if this particular construction is challenged in court, the law requires that the law requires that the construction stops until the petition is heard but we are not seeing is tree felling.”
The Kenyan government seemed to have been jolted to some action two weeks ago, following yet another demonstration by environment activists and Nairobi city dwellers, this 100-year-old iconic fig tree was spared the chop.
The builders of the highway will have to rethink the design at this point: