The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: People Living Near Railway Should Move


Six people were treated for serious injuries yesterday when a train derailed in Kibera's Laini Saba estate. Engineers blamed wet conditions and a railway line that had become unstable. The accident should reignite the move to relocate people who live and work too close to the railway line.

Just like those that have illegal electricity connections running under their homes in some informal settlements, or those that have built shanties under high voltage power lines, these people are exposed to danger daily.

In Kibera particularly, traders are known to sell their wares to within inches of the railway line and simply shift their body weight a little to allow trains to pass.

Apart from the danger they face, these residents and traders also pose a danger to rail transport. Kenya Railways says many have built structures on drainage channels causing flooding on the railway during the rainy season.

Proposals to have people relocated to at least 10 metres on each side of the railway are often met with retrogressive politics.

Kenya Railways earlier in the year announced that it will relocate 11,000 families in Kibera and Mukuru kwa Njenga starting September but this did not happen.

Kenya Railways should now utilise the Sh3.9 billion it received from the World Bank to construct alternative housing and urgently move affected families and traders.

Quote of the day :"Next to excellence is the appreciation of it." - Indian-born English writer William Makepeace Thackeray died on December 23, 1863

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