Duale rules out political rallies at refurbished Uhuru Park

Defense CS Aden Duale. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale has said that political rallies will no longer be held at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

Speaking during the handover of the refurbished facility by the Ministry of Defense to the Nairobi County government, the CS said the governor and MCAs never have control of politicians and their supporters at the venue.

For decades Uhuru Park has hosted political rallies and events that have shaped the history of the country including the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.

But after being closed for about three years to undergo a face-lift conducted by the Kenya Defence Forces, the park is now magnificent.

“I need to confess that that the governor and MCAs as political practitioners, they rarely have control over supporters,” Duale said.

“If we need to maintain this facility to the global parks standards then we need to look for another space for those other good citizens of this country,” he added.

While clarifying the statements he made in the Senate over the park, Duale insisted that if political rallies are allowed at the venue, goons might ruin it in hours.

“They can come to the park but when you want to do a rally including the ruling party and the opposition another place can be booked, we cannot have a good park and destroy it in six hours,” he said.

The CS was responding to Governor Johnson Sakaja who said that since the Park has been handed over to the county, it will still be used to host events including prayer rallies.

Sakaja said Uhuru Park will be free for city residents, however they will be required to have National Identity cards.

“To the people of Nairobi, this park is for you, it is upon you to take care of it. We ask you to hand it over to the next generation by observing the park’s rules,” the governor said.

Unlike before, Uhuru Park now boasts of a playground, an outdoor gym, jogging tracks, botanical trails, an outdoor library, and a skating park.

The walkways have been replaced with colourful slabs with well-manicured lawns, beautifully trimmed trees and complete with sculptures of different animals.

Another attraction is a retired aircraft that has since been refurbished. From a distance, it looks like an aircraft about to take off.

The area that was used as a podium was brought down and the open field now boasts of small fountains and expansive benches made of hardwood.

The park was closed to the public in February 2023 by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to allow for the rehabilitation of the social amenities to give them a modern and appealing look.

NMS was allocated about Sh2 billion for the renovations of parks through the 2021/22 supplementary budget.

However, Central Park is not yet ready for use as the Kenya Defense Forces technicians are still concluding some features.

“Currently Uhuru Park is complete today but there are few things remaining at Central Park due to the weather but will be read in two weeks’ time,” KDF Project Manager Brigadier Titus Sokobe said.

At Central Park, there will be a police post for officers who conduct patrols.

Brig Sokobe said it was now upon the county and the National Police Service to ensure the security of residents visiting Uhuru Park.

During the handing over, KDF and the county government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will allow the military to oversee some activities at the parks for nine months.

“The MoU is just to secure our presence, as Kenya Defense Forces, we must have a legal framework. We cannot be in a space where there is no protection,” Duale said.

“This document is just securing our officers as they work with the governor and his team in a transition period so that they will show them where crucial features including water pumps and power supply are located," he added.

Uhuru Park was gazetted and opened to the public by Kenya's first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta on May 23, 1969, as an embodiment of the country's freedom.