We need a way to curb the railway squatters
Even as we welcome the construction of the standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi and onwards to Uganda, Rwanda and Southern Sudan, it is likely that the project will run into difficulties.
Already, there is the legal challenge binding Kenya Railways Corporation to providing alternative housing for families living next to the railway in Nairobi before evicting them from their present homes.
Court orders were issued after some families living near the railway in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Reuben, under the umbrella group Railway Dwellers Federation of Kenya (RDFK) asked the court to halt evictions.
As matters stand, Kenya Railways must obey the order or risk its bosses being thrown behind bars for contempt.
This explains why the two slums were missing from the list of those to be demolished.
The list affected only those homes built 100 feet on either side of the railway in Mukuru Kaiyaba, Kaloleni and near Likoni Road.
Luckily for residents of Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Reuben, the World Bank has already set aside Sh7 billion towards the building of 9,000 high rise apartments to accommodate them.
A 12.3 kilometre perimeter wall will be built to block people from the railway line. This will help to prevent such accidents as the recent collision between a train and a minibus at Mutindwa that left a dozen dead and others injured.
Whereas previous demolitions have led to lose of life and destruction of property, it is imperative that railway land be off limit.
Kenya Railways must spare no effort to ensure no people can develop businesses nor build homes near the railway.
It is also the responsibility of wananchi to stop living and working near the railway — for their own safety and that of their children. Once these people are moved no one should be allowed back.
Kenya Railways cannot afford to watch people build houses along the line and come later to start demolishing them.
A mechanism of monitoring the line should be in place to curb encroachment when it starts.