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January 21, 2019

State undervalued our property, landowners say in SGR2 payout

A section of SGR Phase 2A under construction at Suswa on Wednesday /FAITH MUTEGI
A section of SGR Phase 2A under construction at Suswa on Wednesday /FAITH MUTEGI

Landowners who ceded their property to make way for the second phase of the standard gauge railway have accused the government of giving them a raw deal.

They said the National Land Commission undervalued their properties.

Their concerns come days after the NLC announced it had received Sh10.2 billion from the Treasury to compensate landowners.

The NLC said the funds received will be disbursed promptly. “We are ready to compensate those who gave out their land for the project. However, we will wait for those who moved to court and those still with disputes,” NLC vice chairperson Abigael Mukolwe told the Star by phone. 

Mukolwe said landowners in Rongai-Ngong line, Ngong–Mai Mahiu line, including Mai Mahiu station and Mai-Mahiu-Suswa station, would get their payout.

“The commission is happy to announce that we have received the balance of the payout for those who gave their land to the project,” Mukolwe said. “We assure all of a speedy compensation.” 

She asked those affected to vacate immediately they receive compensation so that the contractor can proceed with work.

However, the squabbles between landowners and the contractor - China Communications Construction Company - are far from over. 

Last September, Kajiado landowners blocked the construction of the railway for over two months demanding compensation. 

The project stalled at Empaash, Tuala, Oloosirkon, Milimani, Rankau, Kandisi, Merisho, Nkoroi, Kangawa, Oloolua, Ngong, Kimuka and Suswa.

Payment this week

The government released Sh7.9 billion to compensate the landowners in October. But the payment was  stopped the following month after an audit revealed inflation of the compensation.

The commission, through a gazette notice, said it stopped payments for 1,674 parcels of land estimated at 2,544 acres between Syokimau and Mai Mahiu.

On Wednesday, during a media familiarisation tour, landowners could not hide their fury. Some complained that their property was undervalued.

In lower Oletepesi, properties of those who agreed with the authorities have been demolished.

“There is uncertainty as we have not been paid,” a civil servant who requested anonymity told the Star.

He was angry that his property worth over Sh5 million was undervalued.

“They took measurements before saying they would pay by square feet. They did not take into account the kind of finishes,” he said.

The civil servant said his five-bedroom house has two master suites, but was valued at Sh3 million.

He said he could not engage services of lawyers as they would have demanded a lot of money.

He said those who had agreed with the authorities for early entry by contractors were given between Sh30,000 and Sh200,000 to move out.

“The whole thing is a big mess. I have worked with the government but I have never seen such. It is a big project but messed up as there are no proper procedures and communication,” he said.

Peter Kariuki said they were told to wait for payment this week. He has lived in his property for over 10 years.

The construction from Suswa to Ngong is over 80 per cent complete.

At the Nairobi National Park, laying of tracks has been done.

However, about 27km stretch from Ngong still has issues.

This is despite the fact that the contractor targets to hand over the project to the SGR operator by June.

In some of the sections, landowners have put up villas worth millions of shillings in compensation.

Ngong tunnel, which is one of the longest, covering 4.5km, is complete.

Other completed tunnels are Kimuga ( 1.64km) and Nachu ( 1km).

80% completed

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

Phase 2A includes the construction of a 5.3km tunnel, the supply and commissioning of 56 locomotives, supply and commissioning of 40 passenger coaches and the supply and commissioning of 1,620 freight wagons.

A public relations officer at China Communications Construction Company Jasper Liu said compensation has been a problem in some sections.

“We resume the work in some limited space that has been compensated legally. We anticipate more cooperation from the local community and government to help us speed up,” he said.

Liu said 80 per cent of the work is finished. Some 24 to 27km remain.

“We are still handling the schedule but we hope that if the government can speed up compensation, the work will resume and everything will be speeded up.”

Liu  said he hoped that the contract for Phase 2B, which covers Naivasha to Malaba, will be hastened. 

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