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Investigative agencies probing Kenya Railway managers and land officials who leased out public land

KNA  Top Kenya Railways Corporation managers and government officials who facilitated allocation of the parastatal’s parcels of land and assets to private businessmen will be brought to account.

 Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda said relevant investigative agencies were probing all former and current employees of the corporation and Ministry of Lands officials involved in issuing leases and other land ownership documents to individuals in a process which he maintained was irregular.

 Speaking in his office after all buildings on Kenya Railways land along Geoffrey Kamau Way were brought down in a demolition exercise that kicked off last week, Mwenda said the affected businesses had ignored several quit notices.

 The over 500 tenants had leases of between 15 to 30 years and had established mega businesses that included night clubs, hotels and accommodation, gas stations, car bazaars and a tyre centre among others.

  The county commissioner said the fraud was perpetrated to insinuate that Kenya Railways surrendered the land to the government, a precondition for leases to be applied for and issued.

 However, he maintained that at all times, all the affected businessmen were aware that the land was reserved for government use and it was not available for alienation.

 “At no time did the Kenya Railways Corporation surrender the parcels. This is a position that is backed by the Survey of Kenya and the National Land Commission.

The demolished properties fall within a Railway Reserve Area. The most recent quit notices were issued in July,” he said. 

Mwenda said the demolitions are meant to pave way for the rehabilitation of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Kisumu medium meter gauge railway and the Sh160 billion expansion of the Limuru-Nakuru road, which starts at Rironi all the way to Mau Summit.

 The project is being undertaken under the Presidential Delivery Unit, with engineers from the Kenya Defense Forces providing the technical support.

  “The Nakuru-Kisumu Meter Gauge Railway line (MGR) will be rehabilitated by engineers from National Youth Service and the Kenya Defense Forces, while upgrade works of the Nakuru-Malaba MGR have been handed to a private contractor.

 The dual Limuru-Mau Summit dual carriage will decongest Nakuru which is the main gateway to the Northern Corridor and open up the region for local and foreign investors,” he noted

 The county commissioner directed other businessmen who were occupying Kenya Railway Corporation land in Naivasha, Molo, Elburgon and Njoro to quit before demolition squads caught up with them.

He said the state had already started linking the MGR to the Standard Gauge Railway at Longonot in Naivasha at a cost of Sh3.8 billion, adding that the upgrade was necessary following the opening of the new Dry Inland Port at Naivasha.

 The dry port was now experiencing a major follow of cargo whose movement to Malaba and Kisumu will be facilitated by upgrading the railway line all the way to western Kenya.

 On December 17 last year, President Kenyatta launched the extended Standard Gauge Railway freight services from Mombasa to the Naivasha Inland Cargo Depot, while promising faster transportation of cargo to western Kenya and on to neighbouring countries.

 This is one of the several projects that the government has rolled out to rehabilitate and upgrade the old railway line.

 Earlier on, the Transport, Public Works and Housing Committee of the National Assembly approved Sh1.8 billion for the rehabilitation of the Nairobi-Nanyuki Metre Gauge Railway (MGR).

 In January this year, the Cabinet further approved a Sh2.5 billion budget for the upgrade of the Nairobi commuter railway network, in a move is aimed at growing the use of railway transport in the capital city.

 In the recent past, the Ethics and Anticorruption Commission(EACC) agency has been pursuing politicians and top government officials in a bid to recover the Kenya Railways assets valued at more than Sh10 billion.

 It has successfully recovered parcels of the corporation’s land in Kisumu and Mombasa that were irregularly acquired by various politicians and senior officials of government over the years.

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