, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – National Lands Commission (NLC) Chairman Muhammad Swazuri has described the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) as the best project ever undertaken in Kenya and dismissed claims that money was lost during its construction.
Swazuri stated that everything including the compensation of those living along the railway was done transparently at reasonable cost and that no single cent from the project was taken.
The Commission Chairman is currently being investigated by the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) over suspected graft in the compensation of individuals and institutions affected by the Standard Gauge Railway project.
“Kenyans have a new project that has been vetted as one of the best. CRBC (China Roads and Bridges Corporation) has confirmed that this is one of their best projects. It has been done at reasonable cost, it has been done 18 months ahead of schedule,” he said.
“So all these stories that all these people are talking about concerning the gravy train and the compensation scandal, there is nothing like that. If we had really vandalized the project, it would not have been commissioned today,” he stated.
Swazuri insisted that all the funds have been accounted for and accused those making such claims as having ulterior motives.
“By the way, we have actually saved. We have not even paid half of the money because there are disputes among the payees. So it is not true that we have overspent, we have stolen some money, we have done this, the people who are bringing these malicious rumors timed it to coincide with the launch of this project,” he said.
The queries by the EACC include “compensation to individuals for public land, double compensation, compensation to people who did not own land acquired for SGR project and excessive compensation as a result of over valuation.
Swazuri was grilled at the EACC headquarters at Integrity Centre in Nairobi.
On March 29, the chairman was sent away from a parliamentary committee hearing after being termed a hostile witness.
The Lands Committee declared this after the National Lands Commission boss cited a court order issued by Justice John Mativo.
He told the team that the High Court had temporarily stopped them from hearing Mugo Njeru’s petition.
In his petition, Njeru claimed Swazuri received Sh1.2 million to process compensation for SGR land. He wants MPs to hold Swazuri liable for decisions made in his capacity as the NLC chairman.
Swazuri asked the court to stop his removal from office over the bribery allegations.
He also wanted the committee stopped from convening as he believes the team is acting in excess of its powers by purporting to investigate him.
Earlier, government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe urged leaders not to politicize the Railway saying it will benefit all Kenyans.
Kiraithe further stated vandalism along the line and grandstanding statements on the basis of the railway line will not be tolerated.