House team accuses agencies of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) blunders

Three State agencies involved in the multi-billion-shilling Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project made a series of blunders that could endanger Kenya's wildlife, a parliamentary committee has revealed.

The National Assembly Committee on Environment and Natural Resources singled out the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Railways for giving SGR a 'bad image' by ignoring environmental impact assessment reports on Tsavo National Park and proceeding to fragment sections without considering the fate of wildlife in the park.

The report blames NEMA for looking the other way as Kenya Railways and the project contractor proceeded to construct culverts and wildlife crossing points at non-corridor areas, meaning that animals in the park could starve as traditional crossing points are inaccessible and new ones expose them to poachers.

It also indicts KWS for failing to perform its statutory duties as animals under its care, including endangered species, are exposed to human wildlife conflicts.

"The implementation of the ESIA report was shrouded in mystery, secrecy, opaqueness and irresponsibility on the part of NEMA, KRC and KWS, which are Government agencies bestowed with the statutory powers to diligently execute their respective duties.

"This state of affairs has given the SGR project a bad image and caused adverse environmental impact that could otherwise have been mitigated if the agencies had carried out their duties by law," said the team chaired by Amina Abdallah (nominated).

"The KRC was negligent in either altering or disregarding critical licence conditions which have had adverse ramifications on protected and endangered wildlife species in Tsavo National Park... Nema made little, if any, or no effort at all to monitor the compliance and fulfilment of the conditions of its licence by the various agencies.

"This was observed to amount to dereliction of statutory duty bestowed upon Nema as the premier environmental protection agency..." the House team said.

Issues raised in the report are similar to those conservationists pointed out regarding SGR construction across the Nairobi National Park, and its effects on the movement of wildlife in the protected area.

There are arguments the project is at the expense of wildlife heritage.