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November 18, 2018

Naivasha SGR work blocked as landowners demand full payout

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects the construction works of the Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway (Phase 2A) - Ngong Tunnel at Em bulbul - Ngong, Kajiado County
President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects the construction works of the Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway (Phase 2A) - Ngong Tunnel at Em bulbul - Ngong, Kajiado County

The second phase of the standard gauge railway has stalled due to a dispute over land compensation.

An official of the China Communications Construction Company, buildingthe line from Nairobi to Naivasha, yesterday told the Star work has stopped in some sections because land owners in Kajiado East have not been compensated.

“As for construction, this has totally ceased, except in the Nairobi National Park and Olosirkon Forest, which are under the Kenya Wildlife Services,” he said, declining to be named.

About 500 landowners had ceded their parcels but they have not been compensated, despite assurances by the National Land Commission and Kenya Railways.

The residents blocked construction, saying work will only go on after they get paid.

The Chinese official did not disclose how much will be paid as a result of the stoppage. He said 3,118 Kenyan workers are idle.

“The main challenge is compensation. Due to stoppage, the cost will vary. There were strict timelines given by the President on when the project is to be completed,” he said.

The 120km Nairobi-Naivasha line will cost Sh150 billion.

In June, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged the contractor to stick to the June 2019 deadline, saying he would like to use the SGR next year on his way to Kajiado for Madaraka Day celebrations.

“We want to ride on the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR on May 31 next year, and then go to Kajiado for Madaraka Day the next day,” Uhuru said at Kyang’ombe project site in Nairobi. He witnessed installation of bridge pillars across Nairobi National Park.

A source said landowners had changed their minds and decided to stop work, yet they had been paid a facilitation fee. He said an access road would be constructed along SGR phase 2A corridor at Oletepes. The 1.6 km road passes through people’s homes. A second access road is in Oloosirkon location, Tuala town.

Treasury allocated Sh74.7 billion for phase 2A of the SGR in this financial year.

SH1.4 BILLION

Early this month, the immediate former NLC chairperson Muhammad Swazuri told the Star valuation had been completed. However, getting money for compensation remained problematic.

Kenya Railways former MD Atanas Maina told the Star preparations were under way to compensate the residents. He said Kenya Railways was processing a Sh1.4 billion payout.

Maina and Swazuri were arrested on Saturday over suspect SGR land compensation and misuse of Sh222 million.

The two were charged with corruption-related offences alongside 10 other public officers from the Ministry of Lands and the Kenya Railways Corporation.

Others arrested were commission CEO Chavangi Aziz, Salome Munubi (director NLC) Francis Mugo (director NLC) Gladys Muyanga (Ministry of Lands) and Obadiah Wainaina (surveyor).

The NLC has said, however, serviceswill go on after the officials aee replaced.

On Monday, Swazuri was freed on Sh6 million bond or Sh3.5 million bail, while Maina was released on a Sh3 million bond or Sh1.5 million bail.

Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko has petitioned the National Assembly, saying those who ceded their parcels must be paid.

The legislator expressed concern over the safety of pupils at Oloosirkon Primary School. The school is 300 meters from a blasting site.

Head teacher Patrick Mbui said he is “worried about safety of the 366 pupils”.

Teachers also expressed fear as school buildings have developed huge cracks as a result of dynamiting by the contractor. Blasting was stopped after residents staged demonstrations.

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