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Railway line construction under threat

Rising  cases of land disputes in Mai Mahiu area of Naivasha have threatened to derail the construction of a new railway extension from the industrial park at Mai-Mahiu area to Longonot railway station in Naivasha.

The  railway extension is part of the Sh.3.5 billion worth project announced by the Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS), James Macharia last month that aims to upgrade the old metrr-gauge railway line from Naivasha to Malaba that will be used to ferry all cargo from the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Mai-Mahiu.

According to the transport ministry, the extension will connect the ICD to the Longonot railway station for onward transportation of cargo to the Malaba border.

Speaking  after  touring the area, the Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Mathioya Mbogo termed the extension as a very crucial government project and warned those staking a claim to ownership of the land under the project that the government was alert to protect public projects.

Already a number of people laying claim on the land where the old metre-gauge railway line will pass have been asking for compensation from the government with a spot-check on the ground revealing that majority of the said land owners do not have legal documents with some already constructing structures on the route as a way of justifying compensation.

The DCC warned unscrupulous land dealers operating around Mai-Mahiu area and who he said were out to fleece the government that they were in for a disappointment as the government was keen on ensuring completion of the project at all costs.

Mbogo, who was accompanied by officials from Kenya Railways, expressed concerns over what he said was a rise in land disputes at Mai Mahiu and Longonot areas adding that this would not deter the government from completing the project in the projected time.

“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.

Reliable  sources  from Kenya Railways indicated that the new route had already been identified and genuine landowners have been engaged before the project kicks off.

“Since  we started identifying the new route, we have seen the number of the so called land owner’s increase and many of them do not even have legal documents,” the source said.

Last  month, the Transport  CS  said that Sh.3.5 billion had been set aside to upgrade the old railway line from Naivasha to Malaba which will be completed in twelve months’ time.

He  said that plans were underway to make sure that all cargo from the Port of Mombasa to neighboring countries was transported by railway line, which is cheaper and faster.

By  Esther Mwangi

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