NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 14 – The Standard Gauge Railway will pass over the Nairobi National Park and not across it.
According to KWS chairman Dr Richard Leakey, the decision to build a bridge over the park was the most viable choice out of the 7 available options.
Dr Leakey, who was highly opposed of the coexistence of the Park and the Railway at the same space, said the new proposal is out for the good of the country contrary to popular belief.
“My personal choice was that the Park and the Railway should be separate. However, the cost of going round and the implications to our economy and the tax payer made no sense and we are trying to do the right thing for Kenya,” Dr Leakey said.
Before settling on the building the bridge, options of where the Savannah route of the railway would pass included the Kibera route, the Nairobi National Park and Langata/Karen route, the Savannah route – which would cross the park – and the Athi River route among others.
“A majority of these routes would be much more costly and in no way convenient. For instance, an estimated additional Sh200 million would be incurred in the construction cost. Also, there would also be needed extra 50 hectares from the park.”
The building of the bridge will kick off once an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, which is commissioned by the government, seeking to answer queries about the bridge is complete.
According to Leakey, the assessment of the project will take two and a half months with construction beginning immediately.
-Why the bridge is the way to go –
Compared to other proposed options, the railway crossing option will first and foremost hit two birds with one stone. For starters, crossing cuts distance covered. Data released by Kenya Railways reveals that the railway will pass in a single line bridge spanning the total width of 6KM.
The average height of the bridge above the ground will be 18 metres, starting from 8 meters at the entrance into the northern side of the park and 41 meters at the exit southern end of the park.
It also ensures that wildlife is protected.
“Bridge pillar foundations will be dug deep in the ground to reduce ground vibration, noise deflectors will be installed to reduce noise from passing trains and colours of the bridge will blend with the environment,” Engineer Atanas Maina, the Managing Director of Kenya Railways said.
At an undisclosed amount, construction of the bridge is expected to begin January 2017 and is estimated to take about 18 months.
“If the construction was continuously done, it would probably take 6 months. However, because we do not want to interfere with the wildlife, it will take much longer as it has been divided into three phases.”