A real estate firm seeking approval to set up a Ksh80 million ecolodge at Ngong Forest is yet to submit crucial documents to the Kenya Forest Services (KFS).
This was revealed on Thursday by KFS Chief Conservator Officer for forests Julius Kimani.
According to Mr Kimani, the firm, Secure Homes, has not provided KFS with Environmental Impact Assessment reports, operation plans and the architectural design of the ecolodge facility it intends to put up.
This is despite obtaining its special use license on July 19, 2017.
“A special use license is conditional and one of the requirements they were supposed to do in six months period was to provide prerequisite legal documents,” said Mr Kamau.
The officer, who was speaking at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute during the inauguration of 10 board members by environment Cabinet Secreaty Keriako Tobiko, said the audit exercise was not selective but one that is aimed at ensuring strict compliance to environmental guidelines.
“It is part of the audit that we are doing as KFS to ensure there is strict compliance not only on that ecolodge but all the other 46 that we have,” he said.
If KFS approves the construction, the 20-acre mini-resort will have 25 rooms, conference rooms for about 100 guests, swimming pools and parking for 300 vehicles.
Other facilities proposed by the private developer include a gym, restaurant and bar, bandas on a field, an amphitheatre for outdoor functions and nature walks in the natural forest.
The firm also intends to set up hiking trucks and horseback riding excursions.
According to the EIA report, drafted by Kefa Wamicwe, Secure Homes limited was granted special use license after its bid was approved from a list of bidders who sought to put up ‘eco-lodges’ in the forest.
The project will be carried out in two phases.
Phase one is estimated to cost Ksh40 million. Facilities expected to be up by the end of the period are a restaurant, terrace, kitchen, conference room for 100 people, toilets and offices.
The financing for this first phase will come from a ksh35 million bank loan and Ksh5 million own funds.
The construction will take one year and the facility is expected to open immediately.
“The license agreement is for 25 years from the date of execution and may be renewed for such further terms upon mutual agreement of both parties,” the EIA report says.
However, environmental conservationists are opposed to the setup. Some argue that the tourist project will be disastrous to the fast diminishing forest.
Ngong Forest is in Ngong hills, about six kilometres from Nairobi’s CBD. Its original coverage area, when it was first gazetted in 1932, was 3077 hectares (7232 acres).
It’s a habitat to indigenous trees and wild animals. Some of the wildlife found in the forest include buffaloes, wild pigs, porcupines, baboons, colobus monkeys, hyenas, dik-diks, giraffes, zebras, leopards and cheetahs. It’s also home to many amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Over the recent past, it has undergone deforestation due to settlement, which has reduced it to about 1224 hectares (3020 acres).
The beneficiaries include Lenana School, Extelcoms, St Francis Anglican Church, PCEA Mugumoini Church and Langata Cemetery.
Others are The War Cemetry, Kenya Science Teachers College, Meteorological Department and the ASK Showground.