The Kenya Forest Service in Kajiado has said it has educated on “decency” thousands of its merry-makers at the Ngong hills picnic site.
The head of the conservancy at the Forest Service, Francis Kariuki, while speaking to KNU on the phone said: “order has now been restored”.
Kariuki was speaking for the first time following our May 11 expose on large numbers of used condoms allegedly collected by residents of the Milimani area that is adjacent to the Ngong Hills picnic.
He said the number of condoms alleged to have been collected “could have been exaggerated”, adding the numbers could have been blown up in the middle of a rift between two groups of residents who are pro and against the location of the picnic site.
“We are closely working with the police to control the thousands of merry-makers at the Ngong Hills picnic site, who turn up every weekend and public holidays,” said Kariuki.
The head of the conservancy in Nairobi said alcohol, loud music, and any activities that go against laid down regulations, including lack of social distancing has been banned.
But the Ngong North Police Sub-County Commander, Rashid Mohammed, said the number of vehicles that are driven to the picnic site exceeds 1000 per day and it is difficult to monitor all their occupants.
“I am aware of the complaint raised by the residents, especially the lack of social distancing and loud music. The problem is that we cannot go interfering with people’s privacy in their cars in checking whether they are drinking beer,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed went on; “If someone is in his car, how will you know if he is having a beer or other alcoholic drinks. Nobody has banned the use of alcohol in privacy. They are entitled to their privacy.”
Kariuki earlier said he has several teams at the expansive picnic site who are charged with collecting litter.
“We abide by all rules of best practices in environmental management. After the guests have left, our teams pick up all the litter at the picnic,” he said.
Mary Wangeci, a resident of Milimani told the Star on phone loud music, and littering of used condoms is still going.
“We are talking of close to 3,000 people visiting the site. This is a big number of people spread over about 20 acres of land, the police cannot manage them. Just come over this weekend and see for yourself what we are talking about,” Wangeci said.
Kariuki said local tourists are charged Sh200 per day, while foreigners pay Sh600 to enter the picnic.
In the picnic, merry-makers undertake many activities such as road run and watching buffalos. Those who require armed escorts pay extra money for that service.
Residents of Milimani insist their children are exposed to bad habits they may copy from merry-makers from Nairobi and other towns.
Some of the local youth are allowed by Kenya Forest Service to sell candies to merry-makers and therefore have direct contact with them.
“We have teenagers who sell sweets and soft drinks at the picnic, and our worry is what they see in there. When we collected condoms at the picnic, our worry grew on the safety of our teenage girls,” said Wangeci.
Residents are at least relieved now that merry-makers no longer stay at the park beyond 4 pm.
The police and KFS have banned partying at the picnic after 4 pm on Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays.