The Commūnist Party of Kenya (CPK) secured an early win in its battle with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) over the cutting down of trees and construction works at Uhuru Park, after the Environment and Land court stopped all ongoing works pending hearing and determination of the petition.
The ruling is a blów to NMS whose two-year term expires in March 2022. It was created by the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led administration to take on Nairobi county functions transferred to the national government by former Governor Mike Sonko before his impeachment.
CPK had filed a petition amid uproar that followed the closing off of the public park as construction work began and trees were felled by NMS contractors. The court found that the works on Uhuru Park were initiated without the approval of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) as required by law.
“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,” Justice Edward Wabwoto stated while issuing the decision.
Nema supported the application by CPK noting that it had not issued the requisite approvals.
“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,” the judge noted. He also highlighted the lack of public participation.
Represented in the petition by Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi, CPK wants disclosures on budgeting and procurement details for the project, whether it is publicly owned or a public-private partnership project and accessibility for the public.
“Communist Party of Kenya is taking lead in defending public green spaces ! Gen Badi should tell us why he should not be jailed for the damage he has done to the historic Uhuru Park!” the party shared after the ruling.
The CPK currently has no elected representative but has been noticeably growing its presence ahead of the 2022 General Elections. They plan to field candidates for a number of parliamentary seats.
They have taken on Uhuru’s administration which they term ‘a neocolonialist puppet government’ on various platforms and have taken issue with the government’s disregard for the rule of law citing the case of deported lawyer Miguna Miguna.
The party has maintained an anti-Capitalist agenda as its core platform, and prides itself in its ideology-based mobilization strategies as opposed to ethnic mobilization common in Kenya.