Editorials

Protect key infrastructure from runaway vandalism

vandal

The vandalised SGR in Murtoto, Suswa. The costly infrastructure has been lying idle since the project stalled. PHOTO ROBERT GICHIRA | NMG

BDgeneric_logo

Summary

  • The SGR line has terminated in the remote village in Suswa after Kenya ran out of funds to extend the line to Kisumu then to Malaba to connect with Uganda.
  • The Chinese government developed cold feet mid-way and refused to finance the project beyond Naivasha asking for feasibility study and assurance by Uganda to extend the line to Kampala.

The shocking revelations that vandals are tearing down Kenya’s Sh477 billion Standard Gauge Railway should be followed up by quick action from the government.

The SGR line has terminated in the remote village in Suswa after Kenya ran out of funds to extend the line to Kisumu then to Malaba to connect with Uganda.

The Chinese government developed cold feet mid-way and refused to finance the project beyond Naivasha asking for feasibility study and assurance by Uganda to extend the line to Kampala.

A Business Daily report revealed vandals are chipping away the abandoned line one bridge at a time, selling off the railway as scrap metal in neighbouring towns as Kenya Railways police deployed to man the line sleep on the job.

At least three bridges have bene vandalized in Murtoto, Suswa, about six kilometres deep into the wilderness from the Mai Mahiu-Narok highway.

Vandalism menace has been on the rise especially of huge infrastructure projects including the Makupa Causeway in Mombasa County where criminals made away with two out of four beams supporting the bridge from below compromising its structural integrity.

The government is aware of the destruction and President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly warned the vandals when he launched the Madaraka Express passenger train service in May 2017 that he would not hesitate to sign off capital punishment if they did not keep their hands off the project.

Section 343 of the Penal Code states that a person who damages the railway works, with an intent to endanger life or with the knowledge that it is likely to endanger life, is liable to imprisonment for life.

Despite the threat of punishment and requisite law in place the government has failed to protect the line against vandals as the government relies on local guards to police the hundreds of kilometers of railway.

The government may need to invest in better monitoring systems including surveillance and intelligence to protect the hundreds of billion investment spent on the line.

This is also wakeup call for the government to review scrap metal trade in Kenya to enforce the law on licensing dealers and tracking the source of their scrap metal.