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Anti-graft unit freezes payout for SGR land

NAIROBI
By Moses Michira | February 15th 2019

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has suspended compensation for all land acquired for construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, throwing the project into disarray.

It is a response to a standoff at the National Land Commission over payment of Sh17.8 billion to people whose property has been acquired to pave way for the project.

Stopping the compensation has huge implications to 1,090 beneficiaries already displaced and strict timelines for completion of the project before scheduled June 1 presidential launch.

The decision comes after The Standard unearthed widespread demands for kickbacks NLC officials as facilitation fees to hasten the payout. EACC resolved to freeze the compensation through a memo issued on Tuesday in the interest of “cleaning the mess once and for all”.

Yasin Amaru, the EACC spokesman, confirmed the directive was issued earlier in the week to buy time to probe compensation process after incessant complaints from the affected people.

“EACC was gravely concerned about the issues arising from the compensation which in many cases was not even going on before the decision to freeze was made,” he told The Standard.

The Sh17.8 billion released to the NLC in two tranches, in October and December, is still lying in the commission’s bank accounts. It is the delay to pay that prompted Kenya Railways to seek intervention of the courts in a petition that is yet to be concluded.

And with the EACC now throwing spanner in the works, it would complicate matters even more.

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