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Anti-corruption campaigners want railway project halted

President Kenyatta and his Deputy Ruto have told off critics of the project, insisting it was above board. Photo/FILE.

President Kenyatta and his Deputy Ruto have told off critics of the project, insisting it was above board. Photo/FILE.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Leading anti-corruption campaigners have now written to President Uhuru Kenyatta, urging him to suspend the Standard Gauge Railway project until the issues surrounding it are resolved.

Former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chairman Patrick Lumumba and former Governance and Ethics Permanent Secretary John Githongo told a press conference on Sunday that they are not opposed to the multi-billion project, but are concerned about the corruption allegations surrounding it.

“It is already on record that the Attorney General has said that his office was not involved and we hold the view that it is in the interest of Kenyans that all these custodian officers should be involved,” Lumumba said. “It is better to have a delay of six months and have something that has value for money than to allow this particular scheme to go on under this shadow of corruption.”

Githongo said Kenyans are entitled to know the truth “which can only be known if an investigation is initiated.”

“There is nothing that helps defeat corruption or the perception of corruption like sunshine. Bring light to it. We have a lot which is being said. Stories, rumors and a lot of perception with regard to this project need to be investigated,” he said.

The letter to President Kenyatta was dispatched even as jubilee legislators blamed architects of the infamous Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing scandals of frustrating the construction of the multi-billion project implementation.

The MPs led by National Assembly Leader Aden Duale on Saturday said they are convinced that the unnamed Anglo-Leasing masterminds are “making noise” hoping that the tender awarded to a Chinese company will be cancelled for re-advertisement.

“We as leaders in jubilee want to state clearly that Uhuru and Ruto must come out and condemn and expose these crooks who are out to sabotage the railway project which will save Kenyans a lot of money,” Duale said, “we know they are holed up in posh hotels in Nairobi. They must be flushed out so that the project can go on.”

They claimed that Nandi Member of Parliament Alfred Keter who has been vocal on opposing the tender, alleging massive corruption, is the face of the architects who swindled Kenyans billions of money during retired President Daniel arap Moi’s regime.

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“We as leaders know that the face of the mandarins is the Nandi Member of Parliament, they should not be allowed to torment jubilee government like they did in Moi and Kibaki time courtesy of Aglo leasing and Goldenberg scandals. They must be halted in their tracks,” Duale stated, speaking at a funeral service in Kieni.

Keter has denied, including when he appeared before the Public Investment Committee (PIC) last week, that there are forces behind his outbursts.

Two parliamentary committees of Transport and the Public Investment are undertaking an investigation into the allegations raised by Keter, although President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have already told off Keter, vowing the project must be completed, having been awarded to a Chinese company.

Construction of the railway line is estimated to cost Sh340 billion and Kenya is planning to build 40 stations along the line, 33 of them once the railway becomes operational–according to Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau, who has dismissed as hear-say claims by the Nandi Hills MP that the railway tender cost was exaggerated more than three times.

It is expected to take five years with the railway running through Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos and Nairobi counties and opening up remote areas.
It has a total length of 485.303 kilometers consisting of 33 yards/terminals.

The length of section sub grade will be 427.377 km; 98 large and medium bridges and 969 culverts.

The rail line route generally runs parallel to the Mombasa-Nairobi Road, which is 482km.

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