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Road contractor blocks wildlife migration route

BUSIA
By | May 1st 2009

By Morton Saulo

One of the country’s wildlife migratory corridors is under threat, The Standard has established.

This follows the commencement of building of a quarry and an employee site camp by a Chinese company commissioned to build Emali-Oloitoktok Road.

Part of the road under construction where a Chinese contractor has set up a quarry camp.

The two are located within a critical wildlife corridor extending from Amboseli National Park to Kimana Sanctuary, Tsavo and Chyulu National Parks.

The Standard has also learnt that the firm is in the process of detonating heavy explosives in the sensitive wildlife area.

In the controversy, the Oloitoktok DC David ole Shege is also accused of disregarding the stop order issued by the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) barring the project.

The DC authorised excavation to begin on April 25. Mr Shege is said to have brought police to the site to bar community protesters and wildlife activists from the site as the company began work.

Dr Helen Gichohi, president of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) said in a statement the camp was in direct violation of the 2007 Environmental Impact Assessment, which states: "Contractors’ camp shall not be installed in the areas used as wildlife grazing areas or migratory corridors."

She said the move would affect wildlife adversely.

"The quarry and camp will have a severe impact on the wildlife, natural surroundings, and livelihoods of people living in the area," said Gichohi.

She added: "By no means are we against the road development. However, the company can use an alternative site for the quarry and camp that is not in a wildlife corridor, and they should obey Kenya’s environmental laws."

Mr Benjamin Langwen, Nema’s director of compliance and enforcement, told The Standard the company had been ordered to stop any construction.

"They risk being arrested and prosecuted if they defy Nema’s directive," he said.

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