The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Wekesa Clashes With MPs Over Park Land

FORESTRY and Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa found himself in trouble with MPs over the degazettement of parts of Nairobi National Park for the construction of the Southern Bypass.

The minister angered MPs when he failed to satisfactorily answer a question detailing the circumstances under which the degazettement was done without the involvement of Parliament.

Wekesa told the MPs that the government had "only a strip" of land on the edge of the park which acted as the transport corridor of the Southern Bypass. "I am aware degazettment of a national park is prohibited by law unless the Parliament approval is sought. What I can say is that the approval was done by the Cabinet," he said.

However, this response angered MPs Wilbur Ottichillo, David Mosop, Martha Karua, Najib Balala and Gitobu Imanyara who accused Wekesa of giving misleading and contradictory answers to the House. Balala said the land initially earmarked for the bypass had been grabbed by private developers. He faulted the government of illegally hiving off the park instead of going for land grabbers.

Karua wanted to know when Wekesa will bring the motion to the House to approve the degazetement as the law requires. Ottichilo warned that the degazettement will set a dangerous precedent for demands for similar actions of various national parks across the country. But Wekesa denied knowledge of the grabbing of the land meant for the bypass telling MPs only the ministries of Housing and Lands were in position. "I can only talk about the park and wildlife, not about land grabbing or private developers which fall out of my mandate," he said.

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