Following public uproar over plans to hive off part of Uhuru Park to make way for the construction of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) -James Gichuru Road, the government has walked away from its hardline stance to have the Ksh62.2 billion Expressway tear into Uhuru Park.
On Wednesday, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia in a statement said that the park will not be affected by the construction of the road.
“I wish to inform the public that the design of the Expressway has been optimized to ensure that no land is taken from Uhuru Park,” said CS Macharia in a statement.
He said that the government “recognizes” that Uhuru Park is dear to Kenyans owing to its status as one of the few green parks in the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD).
On Oct 24, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) rubbed Kenyans the wrong way when it seemed to justify the decision to hive off 23 meters from the park to facilitate construction of the railway.
KeNHA’s position was backed by government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna before he quickly backtracked on the position.
On social media, a pro-government narrative was on top gear, that the park had no economic value and it was rational to let the road being constructed by the China Road and Bridges Company (CRBC) pass through it.
Greenbelt Movement, an environmental affairs lobby group founded by Maathai had opposed the plans to build the road in Uhuru Park and asked the government to abandon the idea.
CRBC will build and then operate the road for 27 years before handing it to the government. The road will be constructed in two phases. The first phase will begin in Mlolongo and will end up at the Eastern Bypass- City Cabanas.
Once complete, motorists in saloon cars seeking to use the road will part way with Ksh155.