Buildings to be demolished to pave way for railway line in Mombasa

Madaraka Express

The Madaraka Express train passes through Mombasa on the Miritini Bridge on October 16, 2017. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Buildings worth billions of shillings have been earmarked for demolition, among them a newly-built government primary school in Miritini, Mombasa county, to pave way for the construction of a railway line to connect Miritini terminus and the Mombasa railway station.

Maganda Primary School, which was funded by Jomvu National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), a private rehabilitation centre, and several private buildings, will be demolished in the coming weeks after the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) began the project last month.

Hundreds of people affected will not benefit much from compensation. Majority of those who will be evicted have been living in a government scheme for years, and have not been issued title deeds. They are, therefore, considered squatters.

Area residents who are affected have complained of being paid as squatters yet it is the government that failed to give them title deeds on time.

"We have been living in this government scheme for many years. The land was adjudicated about 10 years ago, but due to court cases, the process has delayed for long," said Mr Hussein Mohammed.

Jomvu MP Badi Twalib said he had officially written to KRC, asking the corporation to consider a compensation plan since the project will render a number of people homeless.

Mr Twalib said among the infrastructure to be demolished is a primary school that was opened three years ago.

"About four buildings each costing about Sh1.5 million have been earmarked for demolition among other infrastructures such as water tanks. This will force us to relocate the school, which is only less than three years old," said the MP.

He added, "We have no option but to rethink relocating the school since apart from the railway line, we cannot risk leaving children close to the railway because it's mandatory to have a way leave for the rail."

Mombasa Women Empowerment Network chairperson Amina Abdalla said an institution hosting about 90 patients being rehabilitated is also targeted to be pulled down.

Dormitories, kitchen, mosque and church are among the buildings that will be demolished., said Ms Abdalla.

"Once dormitories and kitchen are gone, we cannot continue keeping patients here and moving them every day to another place to sleep because the majority are usually violent. We will have to relocate but that will cost us a lot," said Ms Abdalla.

In February, the National Environmental and Management Authority (Nema) gazetted guidelines on the proposed railway project linking Miritini SGR terminus to Mombasa town.

The project will entail the construction of the Miritini Metre Gauge Railway station and a railway bridge across the Makupa Causeway in Mombasa.

The train from Miritini to Mombasa railway station, a distance of 2.96 kilometres, will move at 50 kilometres per hour.

"The proponent, Kenya Railways, proposes to construct a commuter metre-rail at Miritini that is a 2.96 km long, single-track railway with a designed speed of 50km per hour, a new rail bridge crossing Makupa causeway with a length of 480 metres, a Miritini station complex building, and a steel overpass in Mombasa County," Nema Director-General Mamo Boru Mamo stated.

To avoid legal battles, Nema invited Mombasa residents to share their views on the impact of the project and the mitigation measures to protect them.

According to mitigation factors listed by Nema, Kenya Railways and the other stakeholders involved in the project will be required to replant trees felled during construction.

Before it starts, affected families are set to be compensated and moved. In addition, the government will offer them counselling.

"Have guidance sessions on how to go about relocating and starting life in a new location," Nema stated.