Headline, November 15 2020/ ''' '' NAIROBI KENYA NATURAL '' ''' : !WOW!PEACE



WHEN NAJMA DHARANI - AN  ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANT moved from Pakistan to Kenya in 1992 - she went around documenting -

The native trees and shrubs, eventually publishing the ''Field Guide to Common Trees and Shrubs of East Africa,'' in 2002.

WITH ALMOST FIVE MILLION PEOPLE  - NAIROBI has two urban forests and two nature reserves left. Public Parks, gardens and playgrounds - Are all shrinking because of expanding developments, according to a 2020 report from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.

THE FIG TREE - FOUR STORIES HIGH and almost a century old, its arched branches forming a giant canopy, has served as a landmark for generations of Kenyans in the bustling commercial neighborhood of Westlands in the capital, Nairobi.

''Not all trees have the same status,'' said Peter Kiare Njoroge, an elder in the Kikuyu tribe, which regards fig trees as the ''house of God,'' and the abode of  their ancestors. This one, he said, cranning his neck to peer up at the giant leaves, is ''like a guard post.''

But the famed tree's days are numbered. It is standing in the path of a four lane, 17 mile highway now being built through the city of Nairobi.

The government authorities say they will remove it - and thought they have promised to relocate and transplant it, experts say that maybe impossible for such a hulking specimen. Construction vehicles were already stationed  nearby on a recent afternoon and the workers they were preparing to get started any day.

This tree has now become the most visible symbol of growing public opposition to the massive new highway - the Nairobi Expressway - for reasons including environmental, economic and aesthetic.

Some Kenyans have been outraged that the highway builders have already mowed down dozens of trees along the route, and might cut through Uharu Park - an iconic downtown swathe of green.

Others oppose the project because they say it will put Kenya into even deeper debt to China, which is building the road at a cost of about $550 million, which taxpayers will be responsible for paying back, one way or another.

Kenyan officials defend the road as necessary to unclog the city's notorious traffic. Charles Njogu, a spokesman for the Kenya National Highway Authority, said that the new road would cut through the heart of downtown, reducing the time it takes to drive during rush hour from Westlands to the  International airport from about two hours to just over 10 minutes.

The project, he said, will also create about 3,500 jobs during and after construction and help reduce the estimated $165 million that Kenyans lose each year sitting in traffic jams. It is slated to be completed in 2022.

Mr. Njogu declined to respond to any questions about the project's environmental impact or the fate of the fig tree.

The expressway has come under withering criticism from many camps. Lawmakers in Parliament questioned the decision to start building the road before the environmental agency had issued licensing documents.

Environmental groups said that there had been no proper studies on the impact and air quality or green spaces and howled about the plan to cut through Uhuru Park.

The Park was saved from the builders in the 1980s by a Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai, who died in 2011.

Even after the government said it would spare the park, environmentalists were not assuaged. ''As we've seen in the past with other types of developments that have gone through, one thing is said and then another is implemented.,'' said Elizabeth Wathuti, head of campaigns at the Wangari Maathai Foundation.

The foundation is part of consortium of groups that have appealed the decision to issue an environmental license for the expressway.

A law requires construction to stop until the case is decided. But the contractor, the China Road and Bridge Corporation, has already begun work, including cutting dozens of trees along the highway's path.

In a city with shrinking green spaces, Nairobi residents are concerned that that the expressway will affect biodiversity.

.Ms. Wathuti, who led a recent protest against taking down the fig tree, said the expressway project shows how the government is interested in infrastructure and commercial development at any cost.

And even more : many question whether an expressway is really the best solution to Nairobi's traffic congestion. Once completed, the thoroughfare could face the ''Braes paradox,'' in which adding roads to an existing network ends up impeding overall traffic flow, said Amos Wemanya, a campaigner with Greenpeace Africa.

''I think the best gift we can give to the next generation is to protect these spaces,'' she said.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on The World and Environmental concerns for the future generations continues. The World Students Society thanks author Abdi Latif Dahir.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders, the great people of Kenya, environmentalists, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011:

''' Fig Fun '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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