Inflated land prices stall flagship projects

What you need to know:

  • The corrupt leaders are doing this to gain popularity and emerge as champions in the eyes of electorate.
  • Projects that are behind schedule due to the challenges include Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset), Kenya Electricity Transmission Company’s (Ketraco) power lines and the standard gauge railway.
  • “The cost of acquiring land for the SGR, for instance is over Sh11 billion. The government will use another Sh1.5 billion to pay off land owners in the Lapsset project.

Inflation of land prices has delayed implementation of flagship infrastructural projects in the country.

And politicians have also been accused of inciting landowners to demand huge sums as compensation for properties acquired by government for these projects.

The corrupt leaders are doing this to gain popularity and emerge as champions in the eyes of electorate.

“These are some of the factors delaying these projects but we are trying to find a way of dealing with them,” said State Corporation Advisory Committee Member Abdikadir Mohamed.

COST OF LAND

Projects that are behind schedule due to the challenges include Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset), Kenya Electricity Transmission Company’s (Ketraco) power lines and the standard gauge railway.

“The cost of acquiring land for the SGR, for instance is over Sh11 billion. The government will use another Sh1.5 billion to pay off land owners in the Lapsset project. These rates have been inflated and this is making it difficult to implement the projects within the scheduled time,” said Mr Mohamed, who is also a presidential advisor.

While the rail project has already started after billions were paid to landowners, the Lapsset project is yet to start, amid controversy over compensation of land owners. Three separate lists of beneficiaries emerged before they were harmonised.

The date of the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the first three berths, is however set to be announced soon, according to officials from the Transport and Infrastructure ministry.

“Courts have also caused confusion in litigating cases that arose out of land disputes relating to the projects,” said Mr Mohamed.

“There is a case where the government valued a piece of land at Sh150 million while private valuation placed it at Sh650 million. In another one, a court added up three different values – Sh1.2 billion, Sh1.7 billion and Sh7.2 billion — and divided it by three to arrive at an award, which was ridiculous. In all these incidents, you cannot rule out corruption,” he added.

HIGH PRICES

“Speculative buying of land has resulted in high prices.”

The committee was in Mombasa last Friday to assess the progress of various projects, including Lapsset, and construction of the second container terminal.

Committee Chairman Arthur Namu said the team was trying to address various complaints lodged by members of the community over compensation.

“We wouldn’t want to see a situation where compensation for land is delayed. We also want conflicts addressed amicably so that the projects may be completed within the scheduled time so they can benefit Kenyans,” he added.

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