Friday, 14 February, 2014
Commission targets KWS land for new railway line

"The meeting is likely to address such issues and our hope is that all the requests the national Government has presented to the secretariat will be addressed appropriately- said Kariuki. "

The Kenya Wildlife Service will lose 250 acres of land in the first phase of acquisition of sites for construction of the controversial Standard Gauge Railway. The National Land Commission showed in a Kenya Gazette notice on Friday that the conservation agency would lose tracts of land in Taita Taveta, Kwale and Makueni counties through compulsory acquisition. “The National Land Commission gives notice that the government intends to acquire the following parcels of land for the Kenya Railways Corporation for the construction of the Mombasa–Nairobi standard gauge railway,” said commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri in the notice. Another 70 acres will be acquired from private land owners, bringing to 390 acres the land being annexed for public use in the first phase..

Overall, the government targets to acquire 5,567 acres of land at Sh8 billion for construction of the Sh448 billion line linking Mombasa to Nairobi. The Public Investment Committee is investigating the tendering and financing of the 609-kilometre line after Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter said procurement procedures were overlooked leading to inflated costs. Government officials have insisted that the agreements were made on a state-to-state basis, hence the lack of competitive bidding.

However, PIC was told that no sovereign guarantees were secured —casting doubt on the bilateral arrangements claims — with the government set to pay Sh10 billion insurance for the loan from the China Export-Import Bank. President Uhuru Kenyatta said the project would go on because of the expected benefits to the economy..

A 1.5 per cent Railway Development Levy on imports for use in Kenya was introduced in the last Budget to finance the railway. The levy raised Sh10 billion in the first half of the financial year against a target of Sh6.2 billion. Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich told PIC that the levy would be reviewed after Export Processing Zones, Kenya Defence Forces and diplomatic missions said their imports should not be subjected to the tax.

Locally incorporated

Questions have also been raised on whether the design of the railway was the most cost effective after it emerged that standards to which the line would be built were unclear. Transport Principal Secretary Nduva Muli, however, said the line would be built to the American Standard of 39 inches between rails, arguing that the Chinese Standard of 56 inches was not applicable outside the Asian Country. The cost per kilometre for the Kenyan class one standard gauge is $3.98 million (Sh338 million) compared to the 327 kilometre class two standard gauge rail being constructed in Ethiopia at $3.84 million (Sh326 million) per kilometre.

Read more at: BDA & pic.

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