The construction of the Standard Gauge Railway halted by the High Court
Six Months after President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned the construction of the controversial Sh327 billion Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the high court has today ordered for the building works of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway line to be stopped, following a successful application filed by Kibwezi West MP Patrick Musimba.
Justice Charles Kariuki issued a 14-day suspension order, barring the defendants, the National Land Commission, Kenya Railways Corporation, the National Environment Management Authority and Attorney General Githu Muigai from engaging in the project until the case is heard and determined.
The suspension order also bars the compulsory acquisition of land and compensation of the residents.
Through lawyer Kethi Kilonzo, Musimba argued that his constituents were not compensated for land acquired for the SGR and that the residents were not given notice ahead of the take-over as required by the law.
Kethi Kilonzo told the court sitting in Machakos County that the names of the residents affected did not appear in the National Gazette and in some instances the measurements of some parcel of land of the affected residents were wrong.
She also cited that Kibwezi residents were bound to suffer economically as the land will be fenced off with a perimeter wall and thus inhibit their movement and that of their livestock to grazing fields.
Justice Kariuki ordered the case to be heard on November 6 and warned that any respondent who fails to honor the order within the 14-day period will be liable for contempt of court.
Early this year,Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau had said that 11,000 acres will be compulsorily acquired from individuals and government agencies along the 609-kilometre Nairobi-Mombasa stretch, citing that the mandatory acquisition of land for the first phase of the standard gauge railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi will cost Sh10 billion.
Compulsory acquisitions arise when the state or government decides to take over a property for public use without private negotiations or the consent of the owner, but with a just and prompt compensation.
The acquisition is done under statutory legislation and the act of acquiring land aims at general benefit of the community as a whole. It thus interferes with the owner’s property rights.