Kenyans have resorted to vandalising the Nairobi-Narok Standard Gauge Railway line to make ends meet as they cash in on scrap metals from the Ksh 150 billion project.
The railway line connects Nairobi, Kajiado, Narok and Nakuru counties and government officials have lamented that the illegal sales may soon affect the transport of goods.
Bodaboda operators, street urchins and matatu touts are suspected to be the ones spearheading the illegal exercise at a flyover bridge on Olkeri Road in Kajiado County. The road connects Ngong’ and Kiserian towns.
The suspects alongside criminals in the region were said to be benefiting from a relapse by police and railway patrol officers.
“The suspects destroy the lines at night and hide metals in the forest. We have launched an investigation into the matter and we will soon make arrests,” Inspector Mercy Mino, the head of the Critical Infrastructure Police Unit stated.
“I think boda boda operators are to blame. The railway police have also relaxed and are not making night patrols,” area Chief Kororio Olkeri added.
The suspects also reportedly sell the scrap metals in Nairobi where the market has a high demand in welding shops.
The SGR is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 Agenda as he works on securing his legacy. While launching the project in May, 2017 President Kenyatta issued a stern warning to people found vandalising the Railway or any projects the government had heavily invested in.
A tough-talking Uhuru warned that he would bring back the death sentence for economic saboteurs.
The project was launched in several phases, with the first phase connecting the port city of Mombasa and Nairobi. The next phase of the rail is the Nairobi-Naivasha section which stretches from Nairobi to Naivasha, a distance of about 120 kilometres.
Kenya currently pays Ksh100 million every month to China’s Africa Star Railway Operation Company to run the railway.
However, the project has witnessed a number of setbacks with a three-judge bench ruling that the Ksh 500 billion project (the whole SGR project) was illegal.
On Friday, June 19, the judges declared that Kenya Railways failed to comply with procurement laws while issuing the contract to the China Roads Bridge Corporation (CRBC).