SGR route row takes political twist as ODM weighs in

SGR route row takes political twist as ODM weighs in

A row between the government and the Maasai community over the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway has taken a political twist with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) weighing in on the matter.

Speaking in Kajiado on Monday, ODM chairman John Mbadi castigated the government over apparent inconsideration of the community in channeling the railway path, saying the construction should be halted until an amicable solution in reached.

“The Grand Coalition Government, under the leadership of Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki, had a clear plan that would have seen the railway line connect Mombasa and Lamu to other areas like Kisumu in a bid to open up the sea port,” said Mbadi.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta has however altered the plan and decided that the line must pass through Naivasha thus necessitating the passing of the line through the Nairobi National Park. This will have detrimental effect on the country’s tourism.”

In what would be considered by some as provocative remarks, the Suba MP called on the Maasai community to continue with their protests against the SGR route to ensure a different route is negotiated.

“The Maasai community should take up their curbs, come out in large numbers and protests the passing of SGR through the park. And while at it, it will not be wrong to hit anyone who tries to disregard your voice,” he remarked.

He called on the Maasai community to protest the passing of the railway line on their land noting that an alternative route should be negotiated.

He called on the people of Kajiado to support Raila Odinga’s presidential bid saying he is the only one who can effect change in status quo.

“It is only Raila Odinga who can end corruption and solve cases of land injustices witnessed in past regimes.”

“I would like to urge you to support him and the County Government of Kajiado under the leadership of ODM’s David Nkedianye.”

Last month, the National Environment Tribunal stopped the construction of SGR through the game park in what is to be phase IIA of the project, connecting Nairobi to Naivasha.

The orders were issued after activist Okiya Omtata filed an application against National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), Kenya Wildlife Service, China Road and Bridge Corporation, Kenya Railways Corporation, the Attorney General and the ministries of Environment and Transport demanding that the planned construction be stopped.

In the application, Omtata, together with the Kenya Coalition for Wildlife Conservation, stated that Nema had failed to conduct feasibility study for the project. The respondents were given 21 days to respond.

In August, the government halted the construction of the SGR project from Nairobi-Naivasha being carried out by China Road and Bridge Corporation, stating that the route had not been approved.

The government has assured Kenyans that phase I of the project, from Mombasa to Nairobi will be completed by July 2017.