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Govt says railway not to affect wildlife sanctuaries

01 August 2015, 19:58

Nairobi - Adequate measures have been put on the ground to ensure the construction of high speed railway does not harm the ecological health of key wildlife sanctuaries, KWS said on Friday.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) chairman Richard Leakey told reporters in Nairobi that the Chinese contractor and state agencies have agreed on a raft of measures to protect wildlife sanctuaries from pollution during the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) linking Mombasa and Nairobi .

The national environmental watchdog has carried out a comprehensive assessment on the impact of the SGR to flora and fauna. Leakey noted that a negligible section of the railway line will pass through national parks.

"Fencing along the track will protect animals from fast moving trains. Sections of the track passing through national parks will also be elevated to enhance movement of wildlife and visitors," said Leakey.

Officials from China Road and Bridge Corporation involved in construction of the modern railway said overpasses will also be established in other wildlife sanctuaries.

The SGR will also pass through Nairobi National Park at the final stages and the contractor has agreed to construct three bridges measuring one kilometer to elevate the track. Leakey disclosed that an underpass measuring over 20 meters will also be developed at the park to ease movement of wildlife and tourists.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 26 launched a two-kilometer overpass at Tsavo National Park to ensure the railway does not interfere with movement of wild animals.

"There will be minimal disturbance to the environment and wildlife since the track passing through Nairobi National Park will be elevated," said Leakey, adding that state agencies have agreed that all future infrastructure projects passing through wildlife sanctuaries should be elevated to allow free movement of animals.

"The government appreciates the critical role the standard gauge railway will play in our socio-economic development. However, strict controls will be put in place to ensure the project does not harm wildlife species," Leakey told journalists in Nairobi.

He refuted media reports that Kenya's wildlife agency had ceded 298 acres of land at Nairobi National Park to pave way for the construction of the modern railway.

"The original boundaries of Nairobi National Park will not be altered and the total acreage will not be reduced due to construction of the railway," Leakey said.

The SGR project is one of Kenya's Vision 2030 flagship projects that will play an important role in improving the transport system as well as strengthening cooperation among East Africa Community (EAC) Member states.

The 472km railway is expected to cut by half the time passengers take to travel from Mombasa to Nairobi from the current eight hours to about four and a half hours. Freight trains will reduce the time it takes to move cargo between the two cities to eight hours.

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- Xinhua


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