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Nairobi-Naivasha SGR construction delayed by land compensation

Four months after Kenya secured funding for the Nairobi-Naivasha standard gauge railway (SGR), construction has been held back due to the lack of a land compensation plan for land owners.

Kenya Railways was required to submit such a plan to the National Land Commission (NLC) in order to secure grants from land owners for the railroad, but with the plan having not been submitted, the NLC has had to put any hopes of construction of the SGR on hold.

“Our hands are tied. We were expecting a resettlement action plan from Kenya Railways weeks ago. We can’t go to the ground to clear the way without the plan,” said NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri in an interview with Business Daily Africa.

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The railroad is likely to cut through the Nairobi National Park, town centres and other agricultural zones, making the land compensation plan paramount in the progression of construction of the SGR.

Comparatively, the land compensation bill for the completed Mombasa-Nairobi line, covering a stretch of 609km, was SH33bn (US$320mn), approximately 10% of the total project cost.

However, despite delays, if the SGR does come to be successfully constructed then it will become a key link to Kenya’s industrial growth due to its connection from the capital to geothermal energy-rich Naivasha.

The 120km line, set to be built by China Road and Bridge Construction, will cost SH150bn (US$1.4bn) and will connect to the recently built Mombasa railway.

Rail infrastructure is a key economic focus in Africa at the current moment, with Egypt also having signed a memorandum of understand with China for the construction of a $739mn rail link this week.