The Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM) has closed a case filed against the contractor of the Kenol-Sagana-Marua Highway project, ending a tussle between the Chinese company and locals.
Jiangxi Transportation Engineering Group had been accused of environmental degradation and encroachment on private land.
In a complaint dated August 23, 2022, landowners of several parcels of land said they had been approached by the contractor who was seeking material for the construction of the project.
The company had requested land for extraction of construction materials.
“In June and July of 2021, we signed lease agreements, giving them permission to extract material from a parcel of land measuring eight acres. The contractor subsequently excavated and extracted material from a further 40 acres without our permission, with impunity and in in blatant disregard of our agreement and our rights,” the letter reads in part.
Additionally, the contractor had failed to restore the land according to their agreement and environmental laws.
Numerous attempts to resolve the breach had failed prompting the landowners to write to the IRM.
Kenol-Sagana-Marua Highway improvement project under the Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHA) is being done at a cost of Sh29.5 billion, with the African Development Bank (AfDB) providing 69 per cent of the funds.
The government is providing 19 per cent while the Africa Growing Together Fund (AGTF), a $2 billion facility sponsored by the People’s Bank of China, and administered by AfDB, is giving the remaining 12 per cent of the funds.
The project commenced on January 2020 with a completion date of December 31, 2023.
According to IRM, the stalemate has since been resolved including compensation, hence closure of the case after complainants withdrew the case.
“The complaint has been successfully resolved to the satisfaction of all parties and that they were ready to close out their original complaint registered with the IRM,” director David Simpson says in a communiqué.
IRM’s mandate (administered by Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (BCRM)), is to provide people adversely affected by a project financed by the AfDB, with an independent mechanism through which they can request the AfDB to comply with its own policies and procedures.
The road project which has dragged behind its timelines, is part of the Kenyan section of Trans-Africa Highway, TAH4 (Cairo to Cape Town) through Nairobi on to Moyale.
In 2020, Kenol residents and individuals doing business along the highway demanded compensation to allow them relocate.
Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu had also raised issues around pending bills amounting to Sh42.2 million and budget process for the project, for the year ended June 30, 2021.
While the project had an approved budget of Sh3.7 billion during the particular financial year, management did not provide an itemised budget showing the detailed budget items for which the expenditure was intended, making it difficult to conduct budget performance analysis.
“Although management has committed to liaise with the line ministry and the National Treasury for adequate budgetary allocation and timely exchequer releases for prompt payment, the project is at risk of incurring significant interest costs and penalties with the continued delay in making payments.,” Gathungu adds in the audit report.
The project was at 70 per cent complete as of June last year.
The highway links the capital Nairobi to some of the major commercial and agriculturally rich Mt Kenya region as well as to Ethiopia through Moyale border.
It consists of the dualling of 84km of the Kenol-Sagana-Marua road.
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