Chinese firm sued for building railway line over pipeline

The ongoing Standard Gauge Railway construction at Taru. Coast Water Services Board says the pillars have been built on its pipelines. (PHOTO: KELVIN KARANI/ STANDARD)

Coast Water Services Board (CWSB) has sued a firm constructing Standard Gauge Railway for building a railway bridge on top of a water pipeline at Taru.

The board is accusing the Chinese firm of ignoring technical advice and constructing rail bridge at Taru in Kwale County on top of its water pipeline from Mzima Springs in Voi.

The water provider says in suit papers filed at Mombasa High Court on July 15 that China Road and Bridges Construction Company's (CRBC) activity now threatens its gigantic underground pipe that supplies water to Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and parts of Taita Taveta counties.

The CWSB is seeking orders to compel CRBC to relocate its giant structure or compensate the water board to relocate its water pipe. CSWB wants the Chinese restrained from proceeding with the project until this dispute is heard and resolved after alleging that the Chinese and Kenya Railway Corporation and the Attorney General have, consistently, ignored expert reports indicating that the SGR project is threatening the pipeline.

Yesterday, Justice Anne Omolo advised the parties to consult and come up with a mutual consent on how to relocate the pipeline. This is the latest suit filed against Jubilee's flagship project against the CRBC and KR.

Two firms based in Mombasa have obtained orders stopping the construction of the railway line on two plots in Miritini until the State pays them Sh1.9 billion in compensation. Last week the High Court ordered the State to compensate the firms in three weeks.

The water provider's lawyer Lucy Momanyi yesterday told Justice  Omolo that the decision to construct the pillars on top of the pipeline supplying Mombasa and Voi residents should be stopped immediately and have the pipeline rerouted.

"China Road and Bridge Construction has commenced dangerous works while undertaking the construction of Standard Gauge Railway. In the process it has encroached on my client's way leave infringing its pillar foundation which distributes water from Mzima Pipeline to Voi and Mombasa" said Momanyi.

She said her client raised the issue with Kenya Railway Corporation and China Road and Bridge Construction company managers, arguing Mzima pipeline right to way leave it got in 1954 must be respected by both defendants.

The lawyer said the way out of the impasse was to have the two companies foot the bill of re-routing the pipeline at a cost of Sh43 million before the locomotives and train start using the railway line.