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Uhuru Park, Central Park will soon be a no go zone for public

NAIROBI
By Josphat Thiong’o | September 28th 2021
A section of Uhuru Park on March 14, 2017. [File, Standard]

You will soon be prohibited from accessing Uhuru Park and Central Park for at least three months to allow the public spaces to undergo renovation.

This is after the Nairobi county assembly today approved a motion that will see the two parks at the heart of the city get a facelift given their wanting state.

Majority Leader Abdi Guyo, who was the mover of the Motion, called for immediate closure of the parks to allow restoration to their former glory.

Mr Guyo explained that plans to renovate the parks were mooted following consultations with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and City Hall.

Notably, the county government is charged with taking care of parks and green spaces such as Uhuru Park, Central Park, Michuki Memorial Park, Jamhuri Park, Jeevanjee Gardens, and Uhuru Gardens, among others.

The MCAs called on the NMS Director-General Mohamed Badi and Nairobi acting Governor Ann Kananu to notify the public and subsequently order for the closure of the two parks to allow for renovations.

Guyo was concerned that the parks have been neglected for years and are at risk of losing their appeal and historical significance should the situation not be remedied as a matter of urgency.

“While NMS has invested heavily in the renovation of Michuki Memorial Park, which investment has greatly boosted the usage of the park with greater numbers visiting the refurbished park on a daily basis, the same has not materialized for Uhuru Park and Central Park which remain in a state of disrepair,” said Guyo.

He explained that rehabilitation and retrofitting of urban parks and green spaces in Nairobi is part of the presidential legacy project and therefore needs the full support of the county.

Families ride on boats at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Friday, January 1, 2021. [File, Standard]

Minority Leader Michael Ogada who seconded the motion, said that the renovations would be undertaken for approximately three months to ensure that satisfactory work was done.

“Let us give them the three months they are requesting for but let them not fence off the place and then disappear,” stated Mr Ogada.

Dandora Area 4 MCA Francis Ngesa said: “We must assure the public that there will be nothing sinister going to happen in the parks. We must also make ensure that not a single inch of public land goes to private hands.”

Mowlem MCA Benson Mwangi regretted that Uhuru park had been turned into a den of thieves and hangout area for drug abusers and called for urgent intervention to remedy the situation

Uhuru Park is a 12.9-hectare recreational park adjacent to the central business district of Nairobi.

It was opened to the public by the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta on May 23, 1969. The park hosts an artificial lake, several national monuments, and an assembly ground which has become a popular skateboarding spot on weekends and also a location for local skateboarding competitions, catering to Nairobi's growing skate scene.

The assembly ground is used for occasional political and religious gatherings. It is the site where protests against illegal land grabbing was violently broken up by the Moi regime.

In 1989, the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and her followers protested government plans to construction the 60-storey Kenya Times Media Trust business complex in Uhuru Park. She was forced by the government to vacate her office and was vilified in Parliament, but her protests and the government's response led foreign investors to cancel the project.

In August 1996, a group led by a Catholic cardinal and Archbishop Maurice Michael Otunga burned a heap of condoms in Uhuru Park.

Uhuru Park was also the scene of a bomb blast in June 2010, which killed six people and leftover 100 people injured. The attack targeted a "NO" campaign rally for the constitutional referendum.

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