Railways to pay woman Sh45 million for damaging her property

The judge noted that the conduct of KRC, which is a government department, was completely unwarranted. [iStockphoto]

Kenya Railways Corporation has been ordered to pay a woman over Sh45 million as compensation for demolishing her property in Nakuru.

Environment and Lands Court judge Lynette Omollo, in a judgment delivered last week, said Kenya Railways trespassed on Monica Wamuhu's property.

As the administrator of the estate of the late Peter Macharia Marianjugu, Wamuhu filed the suit seeking compensation on November 23, 2020, following the demolition of her property.

She told the court that the plot is registered in the name of her deceased husband, Macharia, who was issued a certificate of lease for a period of 99 years from the year 1992.

The woman said KRC, in 1993, started to lay claim over the property, and her late husband filed a case in Nakuru, challenging KRC's decision. The case, according to her, was heard, and the court declared that the property was the property of her husband.

Wamuhu told the court that she had been in occupation of the property until March 2020, when the KRC sent a group of people to find out if they had encroached onto its land.

She said they previously lived in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County, for 40 years when the former president expressed his intention to expand Baringo High School, and they gave up their land for the project.

In return, the land in Nakuru was given to them as compensation, she said.

KRC agents, she said, invaded the suit property and demolished the building on it without a court order. The demolition, she said, happened on a Sunday, and she could not seek redress in court.

The corporation, in its defence, filed a suit on January 25, 2021, and denied claims by Wamuhu. KRC said it is entitled, by law under the Kenya Railways Corporation Act Cap 397, to construct and maintain railway level crossings on both public and private roads in the manner described both in the Act and the East African Railways and Harbours Engineering Manual Volume 1(1962).

The corporation argued that there is a mandatory legal requirement for the maintenance of what is known as the 'Visibility Diamond' that stretches 300 feet in each of the four directions along the diagonals of the crossing.

The court noted that KRC, despite alleging that the suit property is within the "Visibility Diamond", did not produce any evidence to demonstrate the same.

"The defendant (KRC) has committed a grave injustice to the Plaintiff, and there is no doubt in my mind that the plaintiff has made a case for compensation for the demolition of the suit property," ruled the court.

The judge noted that the conduct of KRC, which is a government department, was completely unwarranted.

"It was not only oppressive and arbitrary but violated the Plaintiff's right to property. The demolition is akin to unconstitutional action by the servants of government," read the judgment in part.