• Many people lay fake claims to land where they thought the metre-gauge railway woud run, seeking compensation.
• Land disputes have been an obstacle but the state has thwarted cheats and already identified an alternate route so legtimate landlowers can be compensated. Frauds are trying to lay claims.
Increasing land disputes in Mai Mahiu in Naivasha are a major obstacle to constructing the new railway line from the industrial park to Longonot Railway Station.
Already people are laying claim to the land where the old metre gauge railway ran, causing concern to the State and contractors.
However, a new route has been identified, and this will thwart the frauds.
Most of the 'owners' do not have legitimate title deeds and some have started constructing buildings along what they thought would be the route, demanding compensation.
Last month, the government released Sh3.5 billion to upgrade the old railway line from Naivasha to Malaba carrying all cargo from the Inland Container Depot (ICD).
The funds will also be used to build an extension from the ICD to the Longonot Station for onward transport to Malaba.
Naivasha subcounty commissioner Mathioya Mbogo toured the area and called the extension a crucial project. He was joined by officials from Kenya Railways.
He expressed concern over the increased number of false claims delaying the project but said only legitimate landowners on the new route would be compensated. The disputes are in parts of Mai Mahiu and Longonot areas.
Flanked by officials from Kenya Railways, Mbogo expressed his concern over increased disputes around parts of Mai Mahiu and Longonot areas.
“We had a similar problem during the construction of the SGR from Nairobi to Naivasha and we shall not tolerate a repeat in this project,” he said.
A senior manager from Kenya Railways said they had already identified the new route, bypassing those claiming compensation for fake land claims. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak publicly to the press.
He said the State had already engaged legitimate landowners before the project started so they could be compensated in time.
“Since we started identifying the new route, we have seen the number of the so-called landowners increase and many of them do not have legal documents,” he said.
Last month, Transport CS James Macharia said Sh3.5 billion had been set aside to upgrade the old railway line from Naivaha to Malaba, to be completed in 12 months.
He said plans were underway to ensure all cargo from the Port of Mombasa to neighbouring countries was transported by rail, which is cheaper and faster than road.
“Once the upgrading is complete, all cargo to neighbouring countries will be ferried using the train as we shift from trailers that have caused many accidents along our roads," Macharia said.
(Edited by V. Graham)