Over 3,000 families in the popular GEMA estate in Gilgil are up in arms over plans to construct a railway line from Gilgil town to a special economic zone in Sleeping Warrior area.
The families have raised their concern over the project that passes through their homes even as government surveyors moved to the ground.
According to the residents, over 240 acres would be lost to the project though the government was quick to note that it would be using the old railway line.
According to Ali Kariuki, the chairman Gilgil Islamic Community, they acquired 50 acres from GEMA land buying company in 2007 after following the due process.
Speaking after a heated meeting, he told of their shock after government officers moved to the ground and started surveying, adding that the original maps did not have any railway line.
“We followed the due process in acquiring this land and at no time were we told that there was a railway line here and we are now living in fear,” he said.
This was echoed by a land trader Reuben Omenda who said that a feasibility study had already been conducted in the area without the involvement of area residents.
He said that the impasse had locked out potential land buyers adding that they had followed all the due process while buying the land and having it sub-divided.
“We have in the past seen the government take over land and demolish structures without any compensation and over 3,000 families could be affected by this project,” he said.
Another trader Antony Kamau wondered why the government project was being carried out in secret yet the residents would lose over 240 acres to the railway line.
“We are challenging Kenya Railways to openly come to the ground and show where the so-called railway line is passing through as our maps do not have such infrastructure,” he said.
A resident Lucy Woka said that she had been forced to stop construction of her house due to the current impasse with fears that it could be demolished in future.
Speaking on phone, Gilgil Deputy-County Commissioner Willy Cheboi confirmed plans to construct a railway from Gilgil town to the Special Economic Zone.
“There was an old railway line from Gilgil to JICA and Kenya Railway is surveying the route where the new railway line will be constructed and there will be no eviction,” he said.