Kenya Railways has opened a fresh fight with the National Land Commission (NLC) over Sh17 billion set aside to compensate individuals affected by the Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway.
Kenya Railways, through a suit filed at the High Court, accused the commission of frustrating efforts to complete the mega project and wants it ordered to release the money meant for 1,090 individuals whose land was compulsorily acquired to pave the way for the railway line.
The court case has brought to the fore the intrigues and behind-the-scenes battles that have delayed the construction of the second phase of the multi-billion shilling project that is key to the establishment of a dry port in Naivasha.
Through lawyer Peter Munge, Kenya Railways argued that there was a risk of losing public funds over delayed commencement of the project and wants the court to orders NLC to pay out the dues within 14 days.
“They have caused some portions of the project to stall which may affect the completion deadline of May 31. We do not understand why NLC has refused to compensate the affected land owners when they have already received Sh17,745,404,728 from the National Treasury,” said Mr Munge.
The corporation said the wrangles at NLC should not be used as an excuse to withhold payments to the beneficiaries given that the money was released by the Treasury between October 26 last year and January 9, 2019.
According to Kenya Railways, the parastatal entered into a contract with China Communications Construction Company to construct the 120km Nairobi-Naivasha SGR at a cost of $1,482,745,029 (Sh148.3 billion).
Munge told the court the Sh17.7 billion was released to NLC after due diligence had been undertaken and approved by both Kenya Railways and the Railway Development Levy Fund Advisory Committee and that the commission's duty was only to release it to the beneficiaries.
Kenya Railways' Corporate Secretary Helen Mungania, in her affidavit to support the application, stated that NLC’s conduct amounted to breach of duty and had no justification.