By Derrick Kiplagat
The Standard Gauge Railway project worth $ 13.8 Billion which started last December is set to link the Coastal town of Mombasa to the Capital Nairobi and eventually Uganda. The project is among the deals signed between the Government of Kenya and China two years ago.
National Lands Commission head, Muhammed Swazuri said that about 1,500 families owning land along the railway path would receive compensation to vacate their land. Swazuri who was meeting with locals to explain how the process would be carried out said, “We are keen to ensure that what is offered as compensation is just and fair, so that this project can go on uninterrupted.”
A majority of land owners are however not satisfied with the compensation, a factor which led to protests on Tuesday by some land owners who said that what was being offered was too little, a move that could halt the project which is currently underway.
This project is the first of its kind since the British built a meter gauge railway over a century ago. This will see a better circulation of goods from the sea port of Mombasa to Uganda, which would ease the use of roads, hence cutting down on fuel consumption, congestion of roads by long haulers and perhaps reduce the wear and tear on the road network.
Poor management of the railway network and its administrative body coupled by corruption scandals witnessed in the previous governments has seen the use of rail transport disappear and in the process forcing people to depend on roads for goods circulation and transportation of goods from the port of Mombasa inland and to the land locked countries dependent on the port. The use of roads has come with its own challenges. Many times the lorries used for transporting cargo get hijacked and goods are subsequently stolen, the use of road is also relatively costly as compared to the use of railway.
The Standard Gauge Railway is however set to ease things down as it will ferry much heavier and larger containers more quickly and will relieve pressure on the roads.