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Court extends orders halting SGR project

By Paul Wafula | July 10th 2016 at 10:14:32 GMT +0300

The environment and land court has extended orders barring construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) at the Coast.

African Gas and Oil Company, which is battling the government over unpaid land compensation, obtained the orders on Friday.

Lady Justice Ann Omollo however, allowed the SGR contractors – China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) – to collect their machines on grounds that it does not amount to securing the existing structures.

“They are however, not allowed to start or carry on any constructions/buildings, excavations, or do such other activities that would contravene the order other than what is allowed,” the order reads in part.

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The court will rule on the matter on July 22. The oil company, which is the registered owner of 41.2 hectares of land in Miritini, Mombasa County moved to court after the government failed to deposit about Sh520 million in the firm’s account.

Lady Justice Omollo last month restrained the government and the contractors from ‘entering, constructing, excavating or demolishing’ any structures in the company’s land for fourteen days.

In a petition filed at the High Court in Mombasa, the firm said it had been informed in January that part of its land had been listed for acquisition in the Kenyan Gazette, under the Mombasa Port Area Road Development Project.

Through lawyer, Michael Oloo, the oil firm argues that it was advised that the land together with others would be procedurally acquired and owners compensated.

The land in question was subject of an inquiry at public hearings in Mombasa conducted by the National Land Commission (NLC). After the inquiry, NLC ruled that the land was lawfully acquired by African Gas.

After hearing representations from the petitioner African Gas and Oil Company, NLC awarded the the firm Sh159 million for the land and Sh360 million for interruption of business.

“The petitioner humbly accepted the award by the 3rd respondent (NLC) and supplied details of her bank account into which the money was to be deposited,” the firm says in its petition. But this was never to be.

Before even the ruling was made, the firm argues that the SGR contractors had moved on the site and began works.

“After the award was made by the 3rd respondent in favour of the petitioner herein, the petitioner has made innumerable follow ups and has written several letters to the 2nd (Kenya Railways Corporation) and 3rd (National Land Commission) respondents demanding payment, and which letters are yet to elicit any response,” the firm said.

Africa Oil claims it had planned to develop the suit property for commercial purposes.

“The petitioner has been deprived of the suit property by the state by way of compulsory acquisition yet the respondents, jointly and severally, have either neglected and or refused to pay compensation,” the firm says.

This comes days after an internal audit report by Kenya Railway warned that the country may have lost over Sh500 million in the land compensation scheme

In the report, names of beneficiaries in the KRC payment schedules differ from those in the NLC schedules, totalling Sh11 million.

Standard Gauge Railway African Gas and Oil Company China Road and Bridge Corporation
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