KWS earns Sh9.2bn for SGR, road projects land

Sunday March 31 2019

Nairobi to Naivasha SGR

Work on the Nairobi to Naivasha SGR line. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

EDWIN MUTAI
By EDWIN MUTAI
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The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) raked in a whopping Sh9.2 billion in compensation for land hived off national parks for construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and the Southern By-pass.

Under Phase Two of the SGR that starts from Nairobi to Naivasha, the KWS got Sh4 billion from the Kenya Railways Corporation.

The rail firm paid KWS Sh1,374,900,00 as compensation for land hived off a national park for construction of SGR Phase One that runs from Mombasa to Nairobi, pushing compensation from the rail projects to Sh5.3 billion

The Kenya Railways acquired 133 kilometres of the SGR Phase One from KWS, part of it running through Tsavo East and West and the Nairobi National Park.

For the Southern By-pass, the wildlife agency was paid Sh3,740,713,830 by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) for land cut off Nairobi National Park for construction of the road. The SGR compensation was meant for environmental restoration (Sh1.197 billion) and compensation for movement of structures (Sh278 million) but was diverted to fund operational services under recurrent expenditure owing to huge underfunding by the Treasury.

The Sh3.74 billion paid to KWS by Kenya Railways for the Southern By-pass compensation was to be deposited in the Wildlife Endowment Fund but due to alleged underfunding of recurrent operations, the money went to recurrent expenditure.

Diversion of funds

“However, there was no approval obtained from the National Treasury for diversion of funds contrary to Public Finance Management Act, 2012,” Auditor-General Edward Ouko says in a report.

John Waweru, the KWS Director-General, told Parliament that KWS had only received Sh1.27 billion, leaving a balance of Sh2.47 billion that KRC is yet to pay.

He said the wildlife agency continues to demand the remaining Sh6 million from SGR Phase One compensation but the railways firm had failed to respond.

Mr Waweru said the KWS redirected the compensation cash for the SGR and the Southern By-pass after Parliament drastically cut its budgetary support for the year 2015/16. The National Assembly committee on Environment effected a Sh1.5 billion cut on KWS budget during the supplementary budget.

“This shortfall in government funding made operations difficult and as a stop-gap measure, the board of Trustees approved utilisation of SGR funds and during the supplementary budget requested the National Treasury through the parent Ministry for authority to utilise the SGR funds,” Mr Waweru said.