Open letter to Nairobi Governor Protesting the use and lease of City Park for other purposes

Area road and fence on City Park land

OPEN LETTER to the Nairobi City County protesting the use and lease of City Park for other purposes

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Dr. Evans Kidero
Nairobi City County

Dear Dr. Kidero,

Re: Protesting the use and lease of City Park for other purposes

The Friends of City Park protests the allocation or conversion of any part of the Nairobi City Park to developers or for other uses, including:

1. Leasing of sections of the park for road accesswe have written previously to you on this on 27 January 2015 (on 3 Encroachments that threaten City Park) and 30 October 2015 (on an URGENT request to stop encroachment in progress on City Park) regarding an area near the Dog Pound off Muranga Road/Thika Highway that has been leased to third parties and on which development has been taking place.

2. Permitting any facility that alters historic and ecological aspects of the park, and use of the parkas illustrated in our letter of 30 October 2015, the above lease to third parties has resulted in a permanent wall being built — with detrimental consequences and alterations to the area and with implications on public use or access; it was this type of encroachment and misuse of green spaces that people like Nobel Peace Prize Laureate the late Prof. Wangari Maathai stood against at Jevanjee Gardens and Uhuru Park.

Friends of City Park, a voluntary group of Nature Kenya (the East Africa Natural History Society), started in 1996. Since then we have spent much of the time promoting and protecting City Park from various attempted (unlawful) land allocations of the park.

Some milestones in the Friends of City Park journey:

• 1996: We launched appeals to save City Park and took a full page in the Daily Nation on Saturday 14 Dec 1996 bringing national attention to the precarious future of City Park;
• 1997: a task force on land was set up by the then Lands Minister;
• 2003: we got news of the city taking back all allotted land having been revoked;
• 2009: City Park become a National Monument through a gazette notice issued by the Minister of State for Heritage and Culture thereby protecting the park under the National Museums and Heritage Act (Cap 216 Laws of Kenya);
• 2014: Following consistent engagement with the National Land Commission on allocated portions of the Park, the National Land Commission made determinations for revocation of titles of 14 unlawfully parcels at City Park and gazetted the decisions;
• Efforts to create awareness for City Park at critical times received press coverage in 1996, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2014.

We organize regular nature walks in the Park to create awareness about the beautiful fauna and flora and the rich historical background of the Park. The Friends also organize regular clean ups of the Park to mitigate the effects of environmental pollution, which constantly threatens the Park.

About City Park

The property that is City Park, bordered by Limuru Road, Forest Road and Muranga Road (now enjoined with Thika Highway) constitutes an urban environmental public utility, a green space that is incredibly important for the community of approximately 4 million people of Nairobi.

City Park is a recreational area with a remnant forest rich with birds, insects,amphibians, primates and many trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Indeed we have a biodiversity list of more than 1000 wildlife species. Being a more than 80-year-old park its historical and cultural significance is attested in the gardens, buildings,cemeteries, bowling greens, maze and bandstand.

The City County of Nairobi holds the park in trust for the community of residents of Nairobi with the responsibility for protecting and maintaining this incredibly important space.

The park is also protected and preserved as a National Monument by the National Museums of Kenya, who are called upon to keep the monument from being threatened, damaged or impaired.

Our vision and mission for City Park

Our dream, which we hope you share, is that Every Nairobi Resident has Access to Green Space, and our mission is to preserve City Park in all its biodiverse and historical splendour for generations of Nairobi residents.

There is no reason save for neglect and mismanagement, that City Park cannot be one of the great botanic parks of the world being of a similar size to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa, Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum, Berlin, Germany, Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore. For the resident community this means a space of natural beauty contributing to their health, their economy and the attractiveness of Nairobi for living.

Our appeal to the Nairobi City County Government

We humbly call upon the County Government to celebrate our parks particularly City Park and put in place measures to ensure their recovery and continued service, starting by keeping in high regard the role for which they are meant and protecting that role to the full extent of your Government’s responsibility.

A Management Plan would greatly help in outlining the vision and direction for City Park and the Friends of City Park would wish to support the County Government and National Museums in developing such a Plan towards the conservation and rehabilitation of the Park.

As a starting point, we look forward to action by your Government to resolve the encroachment concerns, particularly regarding the access road and the developments near the Dog Pound.

Please protect and restore City Park!

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Ngarachu
Chair, Friends of City Park, Nature Kenya
friendsofcitypark,org |

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