SGR debate reignited after speeding truck kills elephant on Mombasa Road (Kenya)


Nancy Agutu, The Star

Date Published

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An elephant died after it was hit by a speeding miraa truck on Friday morning, sparking fresh debate on the dangers of allowing the SGR to pass through Nairobi National Park.

Wildlife Direct CEO Paula Kahumbu said via Facebook that the jumbo lay injured on Mombasa road after being hit at about 5am.

KWS spokesman Paul Gathitu said they were informed of the accident but that the elephant had died by the time they arrived.

“We cleared the area and took the ivory,” Gathitu told the Star by phone.

He said the driver of the truck that hit the animal did not notice it as it was dark.

Kahumbu said Kenya Wildlife Service should stop telling Kenyans the lie that the Standard Gauge Railway will have no impact on animal movement.

“My heart is breaking. Railways have no business in parks. We must be the voice for the voiceless,” she said via twitter on Friday.

She asked KWS to write to the Nema director general on not letting the railway go through the park regardless of promises about sound deflectors or bridges.

In response to Kahumbu’s post, social media user Olga Levari said accidents involving animals have been occurring on Mombasa Road.

“Animals cannot cross safely through the high speed and continuous traffic,” said Levari.

He added that the KWS must set up protected passage for the animals, away from motorists.

Jim Duke said: “Truck no doubt going too fast. This scenario is likely to be repeated until measures are put in place to safeguard wildlife. Angry as hell [sic].”

Koech Okech said President Uhuru Kenyatta needs to wake and listen to Kenyans’ concerns.

The proposal for the railway line to cut through the park has been met with sustained protests from conservationists and other interested parties.

Animals looking for alternative passage during construction have ended up straying on to roads, increasing their risk of getting knocked down by motorists.

A standoff with conservationists over the environmental impact of the railway forced Kenya Railways to design a new route to reduce human-wildlife conflict .

The government approved the designs for the SGR in March after which it signed commercial contracts with China Communications Construction Company.

It had been estimated that the 120km route would cost approximately Sh150 billion but it will now cost Sh2.02 billion more.

Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina said the cost went up after the original route was modified as demanded by conservationists.