, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 22 – The government will have acquired all land required for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) by December this year.
This is according to the SGR Project Manager at Kenya Railways Corporation Eng Solomon Ouna who says land acquisition has been one of the major challenges facing the project due to misconceptions by land owners on lack of compensation.
“The process of acquiring that land has not been very friendly to the development of the infrastructure. But at the moment we have initiated the process of acquiring that land and it will take now about five months,” Ouna said.
He says most of the private land owners along the corridor have eased up following ongoing consultations with the government giving hopes for full acquisition of required land.
Ouna says the entire Standard Gauge Railway project will require close to 12,000 acre of land with a majority of it being with private owners.
“Most citizens are embracing this project. There was a lot of misconceptions earlier about the project and the main concern of the citizens was whether the government was going to forcefully acquire the land or be compensated. But there will be compensation to the last penny,” Ouna emphasised.
About 60 percent of the land will be bought by the end of August with the remaining part in December.
The National Land Commission is on the ground at the moment identifying the land owners as well as “measure the acreage of land for each owner in order to translate this into how much money will be required for the compensation.”
The Standard Gauge Railway construction is expected to kick off this October and run for three and a half years.
Exim Bank of China will finance 90 percent of the Sh331 billion required for the construction of the new line from Mombasa to Nairobi, while the Kenyan government will provide the remaining 10 percent of the financing.
Ouna was speaking on Tuesday during a forum on the railway sector in the country which he said will witness a huge boost once the SGR is completed.
“We expect the new railway sector to contribute close to 10 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) from the current less than 1 percent,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Railway Corporation is pushing to have changes in the current Railways Act to allow establishment of a separate independent regulatory body to manage the new line and the sector as a whole.
Ouna says this will not only see development of proper policies for the sector but attract more investors.