Government starts acquiring 1,760 acres for railway to Naivasha

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects the construction works of the Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway (Phase 2A). [Photo/Standard]
The process will see the State buy close to 2,000 acres of land along the planned railway route

National Land Commission has commenced the acquisition of land for the new rail project in Kiambu, Kajiado, Nakuru and Narok counties.

The Government has started acquiring land for the second phase of the standard gauge railway (SGR) project from individuals and institutions.

The process will see the State buy close to 2,000 acres along the planned railway route. More than 100 acres will be annexed from the Nairobi National Park.

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In a public notice last week, the National Land Commission (NLC) said it had started the process of acquiring land for the project in four counties; Kiambu, Kajiado, Nakuru and Narok.

The State agency listed more than 1,200 parcels of land belonging to individuals and institutions that will be affected.

The land has been subdivided into small plots -all adding up to more than 1,700 acres.

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Other than individual owners and the national park managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), those that will be affected by the process will include ranches and land buying companies, which had acquired chunks of land for subdivision and subsequent resale to individual buyers.

“The NLC gives notice that the Government intends to acquire… parcels of land on behalf of Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) for the construction of Standard Gauge Railway (Phase 2A) in Kiambu, Kajiado, Nakuru and Narok Counties for public purpose,” said NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri in a notice in the Kenya Gazette last Friday.

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The process of land acquisition for mega projects has in the past been a major headache for NLC, where haggling with different land owners has proved to be time consuming.

It has in numerous instances resulted in delay of projects, some of which have been costly for Kenyans.

Dealing with the hundreds of individual land owners in counties such as Kajiado where land has been highly been subdivided could prove to be a herculean task for NLC.

The commission may also have to grapple with protests from environmental lobbies and other stakeholders that have in the past opposed the railway going through the park.

The construction of the Nairobi Southern Bypass road that ate in to the park faced major delays due to court cases lodged by environmentalists.

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The phase to Naivasha is expected to take three years (36 months) after the Ministry of Transport and the contractor agreed to speed up construction works, as opposed to four and a half years (54 months) that it was initially expected to take.

It will cost about Sh150 billion, 90 per cent of which has been financed by loans from Exim Bank of China.

The project has already commenced, with the contractor China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) having moved on to site where land was available. CRBC is currently nearing completion of a six kilometre tunnel at Em Bulbul in Ngong.

The project however suffered a setback last week, when on Monday a culvert under construction in Mai Mahiu collapsed and resulted in the death of two of CRBC’s employees while several others were injured.

KRC said the collapse was due to “abnormally strong” winds.

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Phase 2A of the SGR project will be followed up by Phase 2B that will extend the SGR to Kisumu at an estimated cost of Sh350 billion, a bulk of which is expected to be financed through loans from Exim Bank of China.

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