Rising cases of land disputes in Mai Mahiu area in Naivasha are threatening to derail the construction of the new railway extension from the industrial park at Mai-Mahiu area to Longonot Railway Station.
The railway extension is part of the Ksh 3.5 billion projects announced by Transport CS James Macharia last month that aims to upgrade the old meter-gauge railway line from Naivasha to Malaba.
The new railway extension will be used to ferry all cargo from the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Mai-Mahiu.
According to the transport ministry, the extension will connect the ICD to the Longonot railway station for onward transportation of cargo to the Malaba border.
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Speaking after touring the area, Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Mathioya Mbogo termed the extension as a very crucial government project and warned those staking a claim to ownership of the land under the project that the government was alert to protect public projects.
Already a number of people laying claim on the land where the old meter-gauge railway line will pass have been asking for compensation from the government with a spot-check on the ground revealing that majority of the said landowners do not have legal documents with some already constructing structures on the route as a way of justifying compensation.
The DCC warned unscrupulous land dealers operating around Mai-Mahiu area and who he said were out to fleece the government that they were in for a disappointment as the government was keen on ensuring completion of the project at all costs.
Mbogo, who was accompanied by officials from Kenya Railways, expressed concerns over what he said was a rise in land disputes at Mai Mahiu and Longonot areas adding that this would not deter the government from completing the project in the projected time.
“We had a similar problem during the construction of the SGR from Nairobi to Naivasha and we shall not tolerate a repeat in this project,” he said.
Reliable sources from Kenya Railways indicated that the new route had already been identified and genuine landowners have been engaged before the project kicks off.
“Since we started identifying the new route, we have seen the number of the so-called land owner’s increase and many of them do not even have legal documents,” the source said.
Last month, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that Ksh 3.5 billion had been set aside to upgrade the old railway line from Naivasha to Malaba which will be completed in twelve months’ time.
He said that plans were underway to make sure that all cargo from the Port of Mombasa to neighbouring countries was transported by the railway line, which is cheaper and faster.