Kenya: Proposed Rail Link Stirs Tension in Naivasha

The proposed extension of the railway line from Maai Mahiu to Longonot has stirred up a land tussle between parcel owners and a group of pastoralists.

The wrangle has been fuelled by the expected windfall land owners expect to get from the government as compensation.

The rail link will pass through several parcels of land owned by individuals, further intensifying the growing feud between the two groups.

"Anxiety is high between the individual owners and a group of pastoralists, with each of them claiming ownership of the affected parcels of land," said a member of the Nyakinyua farm.

The shareholder, who preferred anonymity, said the pastoralists were adamant that the parcels belong to them "citing historical injustices."

"The bone of contention has been brought about by the expected compensation which is now fuelling the current conflict," added the member.

But speaking in his office Monday, Naivasha deputy county commissioner Mbogo Mathioya warned those claiming ownership against taking the law into their own hands.

"I have made it clear that no one will be allowed to interfere with the ongoing process until the verifications of the documents is completed," said the administrator.

He said all the papers will be scrutinized by the relevant agencies for authentication, calling on those affected to furnish his office with all the legal documents.

"We are aware that some unscrupulous individuals want to cash on the ongoing process due to the expected compensation but we shall not allow that," said Mr Mathioya.

Some of the affected members recently erected structures near the proposed site, further heightening the tension.

The railway line is a supporting infrastructure for the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) that includes the development of an interchange between SGR and the metre gauge railway (MGR), trans-shipment facilities around Maai Mahiu, with road and rail links to the Suswa-Longonot line.

The revamping of the old metre gauge railway (MGR) line will link it to the SGR track, further boosting business opportunities in the area.

To shore up business around the depot, the government is expected to mobilise financial resources from its budget in addition to involvement of the private sector to fast track development of the industries within the Naivasha Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

With several major projects expected to come up, investors and land speculators have been eyeing parcels of land, further pushing up the prices of land within Maai Mahiu and Longonot areas.

Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui has termed the setting up of the Industrial Park in Naivasha as an economic boom for the devolved unit.

He admitted that the project will turn the one time deserted area into the biggest economic and logistics hub in the region.

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