Justice Edward Wamboto of the Environment and Lands Court has on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, barred Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director General Maj Gen. Mohamed Badi and his agents from proceeding with renovations at Uhuru Park until a suit filed in court challenging the same is heard and determined.
"I have placed conservatory orders stopping all renovations, cutting down of trees and any works on Uhuru Park by the 1st and 2nd Respondents( NMS and Badi) either acting by themselves, their agents or any other person acting under their instructions pending the hearing and determination of this petition," Justice Wambuto said.
While issuing the orders to stop the ongoing renovation, the court blamed NMS and Badi for not conducting public participation before embarking on the renovation exercise.
"Badi and NMS should have complied with both the domestic and environment law by involving the members of the public through giving them the information about the project," Justice Wamboto ruled.
He added that; "The respondents did not only breach section 58 and 59 of the environmental management act, but also article 69(1) of the constitution which provides that the state will encourage public participation in the Management and protection and conservation of the environment."
The orders came after a political party namely, the Communist Party of Kenya, petitioned the court seeking to stop renovations at the park.
Through LSK boss Nelson Havi, the Party asked the Environment Court to immediately stop the felling of trees and interfering with the ecosystem of Uhuru Park.
Havi informed the court that the project was sourced in secrecy and the entire park sealed off by military officers during the ongoing renovation.
"In the process of the alleged renovations of the park, NMS through its Director Mohammed Badi closed off the whole park from access by the public, yet the park is well known for being a resting, outing, and social venue for many Nairobians and Kenyans at large. The park is also of great historical, religious, and political significance to Kenyans and its total closure has far-reaching effects," the petitioner said.
Havi says that public participation was not conducted before the renovation exercise was embarked on.
"The petitioner herein is aggrieved that the Nairobi County Assembly debated and passed a resolution approving the alleged renovations of Uhuru park without conducting any public participation whatsoever in utter contravention of the Constitution and the applicable statute that intends to cause further destruction to the other historic sites at the park in the name of the purported renovations, "Havi added.
It was further argued by the petitioners that the nature, scope, extent, content and effect of the project at the park remains unknown to the public.
"The petitioner is also concerned that the project is being expanded using taxpayer’s money but in total disregard of the principles of public finance, especially the participation of the public in public finance matters as provided for under the law," Havi said.