(eTN) – “Have our planners learned nothing from the controversy about the highway project across the Serengeti?” asked a furious tourism stakeholder from Nairobi, when news emerged that the Nakuru council and the Kenyan Road Authority had put up proposals to create a bypass for the traffic, which presently snarls from further upcountry through Nakuru and congests the municipality.
Plans for a highway around Nakuru date back almost 40 years but were never pursued until recently revived and brought into the public domain when tenders for planning and designs were advertised.
Lake Nakuru National Park, world renowned for its pink shores when countless lesser flamingo are present and feed in the alkaline waters of the lake, is one of Kenya’s biggest tourist magnets and a major source of income for Kenya Wildlife Services and the municipality. The park is also home to the endangered Rothschild giraffes and most notably Kenya’s first designated rhino sanctuary, created back in the early 1980s when poaching was as rife as it is again today. Any attempts to reduce the size of the park, already shrunk from its long ago size and now totally fenced off, to restrict animal migration and protect adjoining farmlands, would lead to serious consequences for the game inside the park, and a road, as is the case with the planned Serengeti highway, would have potentially devastating consequences.
Tourism stakeholders and the conservation fraternity were quick to serve notice to government that national parks were a “no go” area for national roads, and that they would swamp government with court cases, petitions, and if necessary peaceful protests in Nakuru and Nairobi, should the plans not be shelved and the planned road not be routed differently.