NLC at it again, behind Sh15b SGR land racket
SEE ALSO :Kimemia calls meet to address stand-offPresident Kenyatta and several top officials, including Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, are scheduled to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping to sign loan documents for Sh380 billion to fund the Naivasha-Narok-Kisumu railway line. Public funds Officials from the already stained National Lands Commission (NLC) are at the centre of the bid to steal public funds. NLC is the Government agency that helps in valuation and compulsory acquisition of private land. John Sikorei, who chairs an association formed by the households that will be affected, told The Standard that the initial valuation was outright theft in a scheme hatched by Government officials.
SEE ALSO :NLC sued over Sh24b dam landIts chairman Muhammad Swazuri is also facing criminal charges relating to fraudulent payments for supposed acquisition of land occupied by two public schools in the city. But beyond the financial losses, NLC’s love for controversy is hurting households in different ways. As the valuers foil this blatant theft of taxpayers’ money, hundreds of households that have already been displaced are yet to be compensated. “It is because of their evil schemes that so many people are caught up in this confusion, not sure how to move on or where there children will even go to school,” Sikorei said. His concern is in reference to the future after the Chinese contractor pulls down the hundreds of homes in the relatively well-developed corridor as owners will have to move, possibly to entirely new places amid the ongoing uncertainty. And to illustrate how serious matters have become, anxious residents have pushed the contractor from several sites, prompting the President to intervene. In one of the latest directives, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) was asked to focus on two major stations and the stretch running through Oloolua Forest, which is government-owned. But Joash Oindo, a senior official at the NLC currently responsible for valuation and taxes, defended the prior assessment done by the agency, arguing that the officials did honest work and that it was usual for different valuers to arrive at different estimates. On fraud, he said he was not aware of any cases. “We were asked by the Ministry of Transport to assess the value of the land and we did just that, gave our report and we are certain the affected people will be compensated in due time,” said Mr Oindo. Normal audit He described what was put to him as a fresh valuation as a “normal audit”. Before the controversial figures were questioned, President Kenyatta had directed Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and his then Principal Secretary Paul Maringa to ensure compensation was made before the end of July. We are in September with no end to the circus in sight. Mr Maringa said he could not comment on the matter now following his transfer to head the department of Public Works within the same ministry in mid-July and directed queries to his predecessor. Newly appointed Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett did not responded to queries from The Standard relating to the delayed compensation, fraudulent valuations and suspension of works on several sites. A few residents, however, have allowed the railway construction to continue even before the compensation comes through. At his home at the edge of Oloolua Forest, a man who gave his name only as Ng’ang’a is among them. CCCC is erecting a bridge in his one-acre compound at the point the railway line will run over Forest Line Road. “It is the Government that has promised to compensate us and it will, so really there is no point stopping the works,” Ng’ang’a said at his home on Saturday. His concern, however, is that his permanent house will be left standing on a tiny sliver of land - just three metres from the railway fence, since the acquisition schedule is strictly within specified distance on either side of the line.