Taxpayers will have to cough up more cash for land in the second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.
This comes even as the Government and environmental lobby groups seek alternative routes for the second phase of the multi-billion-dollar railway line through the Nairobi National Park to Naivasha.
Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera said land acquisition costs that have so far taken up more than 10 per cent of the SGR budget and are set to go higher with the expansion of the infrastructure.
“The SGR has so far taken up Sh33 billion in compulsory land acquisition, which is 10 per cent of the overall costs and account for most of the expense cost of the project,” he said.
Mr Nyakera (pictured), who was speaking during a panel discussion at a morning news television show, said the delayed second phase of the rail project passing through the national park could begin as early as next month.
“There was objection on the proposed route the railway was going to take through the park and we are engaged in talks with the concerned stakeholders in finding an alternative route,” he explained.
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the contractor for the project hired by Kenya Railways, has proposed seven options for the 50km stretch of phase 2A going from Nairobi South Station and terminating in Enoosupukia area of Narok County.
All the seven options presented for the Sh150 billion extension cut through a portion of the National park, about 5kms and require a bridge of between six and 15 kilometres across the park.
Conservationists have come out strongly against the proposed routes insisting the railway does not have to go through the park at all.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) had halted the extension pending a review of the case.
Mr Nyakera said the decision on the route will be settled over the next one month and will determine the amount of money required to fund the compulsory land acquisitions.
The Government has raised a red flag over the high cost of carrying out land acquisitions for capital infrastructure projects where landowners inflate cost.
Construction of the first phase of the railway was delayed largely because of wrangles between local community members and the State over compensation for land.
Nyakera has further stated that the law has a provision allowing the Government to compulsorily acquire land for infrastructure despite the objection in cases where owners have refused to sell.
“We have the option of exercising this provision so that the construction of the project can proceed even as issues related to land compensation are being ironed out,” he said.
Early this year the Government received the first batch of locomotives that will be used on the railway, with workers expected to complete the 472-kilometre Phase One of the project ahead of schedule.