Nairobi’s iconic Uhuru and Central parks will be reopened to the public in February next year, after what the Nairobi Metropolitan Services termed much-needed renovations.
The two parks, in Nairobi’s city centre, have been closed to the public and hawkers for more than a month now.
According to Tony Mbarine of the County authority, the upgrade is expected to improve the recreational areas with modern facilities befitting of a modern city.
Allaying fears that Uhuru Park has been grabbed by a private developer, Mbarine clarified that the Metropolitan service was using its contractor and not a private one and “there is no way we can do the upgrade while the park is open.”
The renovations will include building of new leisure facilities and amenities currently lacking in the two parks.
The parks' basic facilities were built in the 1960s and upgraded in the 80s when the city had less than one million inhabitants. It now serves over five million residents.
The County of Nairobi has other parks and green spaces which have been upgraded recently — the Michuki Memorial Park, Jamhuri Park, Jeevanjee Gardens and Uhuru Gardens — which are run and maintained by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services.
The closure and renovation of the two parks last month was decided by the Nairobi County Assembly after a debate concluded that they were in a deplorable state.
Assembly member Abdi Guyo said the iconic parks have suffered years of neglect and risk losing their appeal, historical significance and recognition. Former president Daniel arap Moi publicly clashed with the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai when his Kanu government ''grabbed'' Uhuru Park, fenced it and broke ground for a skyscraper.
Maathai took her fight to the people's court and she won. Moi and Kanu dropped the idea.
So Uhuru Park has a special sentimental attachment with the ordinary public. Its rehabilitation will enhance the city's much needed green spaces and live up to Nairobi's name: The City in the Sun.