30 May 2014

Kenya: Termites At Work: The Cannibalising Of KR


The story of the looting of Kenya Railways property over the past six years is a textbook example of corruption in action. According to an internal audit report seen by the Star, 13 firms and one individual owe the corporation Sh158 million from collected scrap metal that was not properly invoiced.

The corrupt scramble for and cannibalising of KR involved a scrap metal scam in which railway lines, sidings, water tanks, and rolling stock were sold off. The coaches could have been sold to Rift Valley Railways at much higher prices than those of the corrupt deals.

What’s more, it all happened with the connivance of top managers, the police and private security firms. Although confined to Kenya, the looting of KR has many of the aspects of the phenomenon anti-graft researcher Peter Gastrow highlighted in his 2011 paper, 'Termites at Work: Transnational Organized Crime and State Erosion in Kenya'.

Gastrow noted, “Criminal networks constitute a direct threat to the state itself, not through open confrontation but by penetrating state institutions through bribery and corruption and by subverting or undermining them from within”.

If there are no deterrent consequences for the looting of KR, the undermining of state institutions from within can only become more brazen – and dangerous.

"This is no time for making new enemies." — French philosopher Voltaire, who said this on his deathbed when asked to renounce Satan, died on May 30, 1778

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