Money was supposed to pay land owners whose parcels were taken for extension of the SGR to Naivasha.
Commission says money cannot be paid as valuation was exaggerated but Railways says money was disbursed and should be paid to land owners.
The Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) and the National Land Commission (NLC) are locked in a vicious battle over Sh17 billion meant for compensating land owners in the Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway project.
The corporation, which accuses the commission — chaired by Dr Muhammad Swazuri — of delaying the payments due to landowners on Phase 2A of the multi-billion-shilling SGR project, has now moved to court to compel NLC to pay.
The State corporation says in court documents that NLC had prepared all the compensation schedules, which comprised properties to be acquired within the sections of the corridor from Nairobi National Park to Ongata Rongai station and sections within Ongata Rongai, Ngong and Mai Mahiu station area.
Soon after, the Railway Development Levy Fund Advisory Committee approved the compensation schedule for the sum of Sh7,520,925,616.03, which NLC was expected to pay out. Further approvals were done and money released in the months of October last year to January this year.
“As a consequence of the foregoing, the Railway Development Levy Fund Advisory Committee approved disbursements of funds to the National Land Commission amounting to Sh10,224,478,162.46,” the corporation says.
“The National Treasury has so far released to the National Land Commission compensation funds for Phase 2A of the SGR Project amounting to Sh17,745,404,728.46 … it’s the legitimate expectation of all concerned and affected parties that NLC would release the compensation funds received from the National Treasury to the Projected Affected Persons (PAPs) promptly and without any unnecessary delays. Further, the said amounts were released after due diligence had been undertaken by several agencies and the same approved by the Kenya Railways and the Railway Development Levy Fund Advisory Committee.”
Kenya Railways goes on to state that PAPs had the right to withhold their respective parcels of land until they have been paid land but, in the present case, Kenya Railways took possession of their parcels of land within the corridor for Phase 2 A of the SGR Project and construction work has been ongoing due to the strict timelines for the project.
“The construction work for Phase 2 A of the SGR Project has been suffering delays caused by frustrated PAPs who have not been compensated for their respective portions of land that has been acquired for the project.
Kenya Railways has written to NLC directly and made demands through its advocates seeking the release of the compensation funds due and payable to the PAPs and which sums have been received from the National Treasury but the NLC continues to withhold a substantial part of the sum and failed to respond appropriately, without any justification at all to the detriment of the Kenya Railways,” states Kenya Railways.
It adds that frustration on the ongoing construction work on Phase 2 A of the SGR Project is likely to occasion delays to the completion deadline of May 31, 2019 hence the urgency of this matter.
“There have been wrangles within the National Land Commission, which have necessitated filing of a suit at the High Court in Nairobi. However, such disputes should not interfere with the rights of the PAPs which are guaranteed by the Constitution or cause huge losses to the Kenya Railways arising from potential court cases or claims for damages due to the afore stated delays,” it stated.
Previously, the commission said the valuation was grossly exaggerated and needs to be reviewed and scaled down.
In November last year, NLC Vice-Chairperson Abigael Mbagaya placed a Gazette notice on behalf of the commission, effectively cancelling the initial valuation issued by NLC in March.
In the new notice, Ms Mbagaya noted that the commission cancelled the Sh17 billion award as a result of discrepancies in computations, omissions and errors in areas that were to be acquired.