NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 11 – Land owners in Kajiado East who sold their land to facilitate construction of Phase II of the Standard Gauge Railway will be paid in the next two weeks, according to Transport Cabinet Administrative Secretary Chris Obure.
The acceleration of the payment has been prompted by area MP Peris Tobiko, who in her petition before the National Assembly Transport Committee, accused the National Land Commission (NLC) and the Kenya Railways Corporation of reneging on their promise to compensate the landowners.
According to Obure, the delay in payment followed complaints by activists who claimed that the compensation was too high, forcing the NLC to re-evaluate the amounts awarded.
“A group of activists and some people raised concerns that the amount that was being awarded to the landowners was too high and it is at that point that the ministry thought that a verification process should be undertaken by the National Land Commission,” said Obure.
However, it emerged that the landowners will be paid based on a second list that the NLC reviewed following protests by the civil society groups that the first list was too high.
Obure who spoke when he appeared on Thursday to respond to the petition of MP Tobiko dismissed claims that the government had forced the locals to surrender their land to the government.
The former minister gave assurances that the government was in the process of finalising the payments but MP Tobiko appeared not convinced.
“The people in my constituency are suffering, others took loans with their undertaking letters that were given to them by the government and now the banks are chasing them,” she said.
In her petition, MP Tobiko also took issue with the Chinese contractors for failing to honour their Corporate Social Responsibility commitment like drilling boreholes in the constituency and building schools.
“Since the beginning of the construction the SGR, my constituents have not benefited from anything. We were promised some development will take place but the contractors have neglected us,” she said.
Further, Tobiko faulted the contractors for causing environmental damage in the constituency through the machines they use in breaking the hard stones found in the path of the railway line.
“The machines which are being used by the contractors are very explosive and the loud bang which usually follows has led to massive cracks in schools and the contractor never rebuilds them.
“Another issue of concern is the damage of roads that is caused by the heavy-duty trucks that carry heavy raw materials for the construction. The constituency roads are now in poor condition and the contractors yet again have no interest in repairing them,” she said.
The committee temporary chair Mumias MP Johnstone Naika adjourned the meeting until the end of this month when Obure and his team are expected to furnish the committee with a detailed list of the landowners in Kajiado and the amount they are to receive.
He however ruled that the landowners should not be paid less than the initial offer they were given.