Construction of the second phase of the standard gauge railway is giving residents sleepless night, literally.
The contractor uses explosives to blast its way through rocks.
“The blasting, which is done at any time of the day, including the night, is extremely loud and powerful. It has brought irreparable damage to a number of residences, evident by way of cracks, falling ceilings,” the residents say in a petition seen by the Star.
“In addition, residents are unable to enjoy their sleep due to the loud blasting.”
The petition by the residents of Empaash, Tuala, Rongai and Olorsirkon is addressed to Transport CS James Macharia, Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina, NLC chairperson Muhammad Swazuri and the Office of the President, among others.
They accuse the government of failing to check the contractor, China Road and Bridge Corporation, who is exposing them to health hazards
Residents accuse the contractor of failing to pour water on dusty roads as required under the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. The dust is hurting their crops.
The residents said they have not been compensated for land acquired for the railway. Their lawyer Lucas Naikuni says the project is 70 per cent complete and yet landowners have not been paid.
The 120km railway from Nairobi to Naivasha is expected to be complete by September next year and will cost Sh150 billion.
Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina told the Star on Wednesday that he will follow up. “I think locals had demanded compensation, a matter which is with the Ministry of Lands. We should be getting feedback [from the ministry] this week,” he said.
Nema county director Godfrey Wafula had promised that an investigation will be carried out. He told the Star that they had received complaints.
“Those nearby had entered into an agreement to move and allow for the opening of that line. There is a list of people with agreement and names,” Wafula said. Maina said the issue of dust always comes up.
Residents said access roads have been destroyed, while the few remaining passable ones are cordoned off by the contractor without notice.
CRBC communication officer Sandy Feng promised to respond to questions raised by the Star. He had however not responded by press time.
Naikuni said if the authorities fail to address the grievances raised in two weeks, he will seek legal redress. Residents are set to meet today at Oloosirkon, Tuala, to discuss the issues.