The High Court in Narok has on Wednesday, September 23 barred the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) from shutting down the Mara Ngenche Safari Camp pending hearing and determination of a case filed by the facility.
Last week, NEMA ordered closure of the high-end camp situated within the Maasai Mara National Reserve following public uproar after it emerged the facility was blocking wildebeest crossing during the migration season.
This prompted owners of the camp to file an urgent application on Monday to block the planned closure.
Through their lawyer Mohammed Abdullahi the petitioners asked the court to issue conservatory orders restraining the government agency from interfering with the facility until their case is heard and determined.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Environment and Land Court judge Justice Mohamed Kullow granted the camp an order to continue operating, quashing the directive issued by NEMA on September 17, 2020 to shut down operations of the facility.
Kullow directed the applicant to file and serve the substantive motion within 21 days with a directive to the respondents (NEMA) as the case will be mentioned on October 22 for further directions.
Last Thursday, NEMA officials led by its Chairman John Konchellah carried out a fact finding mission thereby ordering the camp be closed for allegedly blocking the migration of wildebeests which had begun crossing the Mara River through the facility.
It is then that Konchellah, during a media briefing, said the closure shall stand a full environmental impact assessment to determine the suitability of the camp at the confluence of Talek and Mara rivers.
During the assessment, Konchellah further recommended removal of two structures found to be in the riparian area.
The camp, which opened its doors 10 years ago with six tents, is valued at Ksh.300 million.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala had also earlier ordered removal of the tented camp.
This followed uproar sparked by netizens after a video emerged of wildebeests being chased away from the premises by employees of the camp as they attempted to cross through it during their annual migration.