Urban African news: Nairobi’s new commuter rail and Nigeria’s capital city’s compensation for population resettlement

November 20, 2012

Africa, Did you know?, International

Nairobi, Kenya’s new commuter rail system

The train will run between the city center and the suburb of Syokimau, where Kenya has built its first railway station in more than 80 years.

Daily Nation

President Mwai Kibaki on November 13, 2012  launched the Syokimau Rail Service marking a major milestone in the history of railway development in the country.

Syokimau Railway Station will impact positively on traffic management in Nairobi and its suburbs.

Kibaki said the commuter rail service will also improve the socio-economic welfare of citizens, while at the same time enabling Nairobi to remain the regional economic, commercial and business hub in the region.

Kibaki reaffirmed the government’s commitment to continue investing in rail infrastructure development, especially in commuter transport, in order to improve transport services and facilitate economic development.

He said plans have been finalised to construct the Imara Daima and Makadara railway stations while the design work for the development of similar transport systems in Mombasa and Kisumu cities is in progress.

In addition to these projects, Kibaki said Kenya is collaborating with other countries in the region to develop railway infrastructure in order to improve regional connectivity.

“The development of railway infrastructure will supplement the other modes of transport, thereby enhancing trade relations and economic integration,” he added.

Kibaki said Kenya has signed a bilateral agreement with Uganda to facilitate joint development of the Mombasa-Malaba-Kampala standard gauge railway. A branch line will also be extended to Kisumu.

“Similarly, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Ethiopia for the development of Lamu-Addis Ababa standard gauge railway. Under the Lamu-South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project, the development of a railway component is among the priority projects,” Kibaki said.

The development of these critical transport facilities will, besides reducing transport costs due to faster movement of goods and people within the region, also increase trade, improve the socio-economic welfare of Northern Kenya and boost the country’s potential in attracting investments from all over the world, Kibaki added.


Nairobi’s new 8-lane highway

BBC News

A Chinese company has just built Kenya’s first eight-lane highway, linking Nairobi to the densely populated industrial town of Thika, about 40 km away.

It was built at a cost of about 28bn shillings ($330m; £200m).

Although the highway has not been officially launched, motorists are already using it.


Video: Syokimau Railway to be commissioned

Video: Future expanded rapid rail transit stations

Video: Syokimau commuter railway station opens


Video: Nairobi’s Thika Highway to be officially opened


Video: Nairobi’s new super highway



Nairobi, the capital and largest city in Kenya with over 3 million people in the metropolitan area.


Nigeria’s Gbagyi ethnic group fight for land money

Yvonne Ndege
Al Jazeera

Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was conceived of by a military government in 1976, the idea was to find a ‘no-man’s land’ in the geographic centre of the country, which no one group could lay claim to, and an area in which Nigerians could unite under.

Except the 8,000 square kilometres (3,088 sq. miles) of land upon which the capital, which includes the Presidential Villa, the National Assembly or parliament, dozens of Federal Government parastatals and institutions, and plush neighbourhoods and malls, was somebody’s land, the Gbagyi.

Along with some other small indigenous groups, they were hurriedly forced off their land by the military government to make way for the construction of the new capital, and promised compensation and resettlement.

When the military government of the day came to understand that the territory was in fact not ‘no man’s land’, they too grossly underestimated the number of Gbagyi people living on the territory as they continued with their plan for the area.

As it became more evident that hundreds of thousands of Gbagyi people existed and made their livelihoods from the territory, the compensation and resettlement plan was bungled, then effectively buried.

Decades on, the Gbagyi, who have received virtually nothing by way of compensation for their lost land, are fighting to get the money owed to them and be resettled properly. The threat of violent ejection by the military rulers from their lands laid way to the fullscale loss of livelihood for thousands of Gbagyi families.

Thirty-six years on, young Gbagyi men and women are now fighting, not just for compensation and resettlement, but also for a say in how the capital is managed politically and economically, and a share of huge profits that come from land sales in the territory.

And it’s clear to see why.

Abuja is one of the fastest growing and most expensive cities in Africa. In recent years, land and property prices have ran into the hundreds of millions of dollars, rivalling the price of prime land in countries like the United Kingdom and France.

The city is also the political capital of the West Africa, accommodating the regional body, ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West Africa States, and the regional home of the diplomatic and international community.

The headquarters of major international corporations and organisations have also made Gbagyi land their home. It seems everybody wants a piece of the area. And as the years have gone on, Gbagyis have become more and more aware of the true scale and economic impact of the loss of their land. But for Gbagyis to get what they want, compensation, resettlement and a political and economic share of the capital, the political will of members of the country’s National Assembly, or parliamentarians, must exist first.

The Nigerian constitution, which does not recognise the territory as a state, or the original inhabitants as a group within the territory, would need to be changed for Gbagyis to enjoy political power and some of the profits that come from their ancestral land.

But as ethnic minorities, symbolised, for example, by the fact that only three Gbagyis have seats in Nigeria’s 469 member National Assembly – the challenge to get the remaining parliamentary members behind the idea of restitution for the Gbagyi people, is going to be formidable.

The Gbagyi people, analysts say, also lack the financial muscle and political connections needed to get the Gbagyi land question onto the national agenda sufficiently enough to bring about their demands, especially against all the other national issues that need the attention of the country’s parliamentarians.

This is not helped by the perceived diplomatic and accommodating nature of the Gbagyi. But that image is changing.

The group, which it is estimated are owned at least $915m in compensation for the lost land, have held protests in Abuja in recent weeks over the matter, and are promising to bring the capital to a standstill of the issue is not addressed.

This action may have gone some way to influencing the National Assembly’s Consitutional Review Committee to look at addressing the Gbagyi land question in the coming weeks.

Video: Nigeria’s Gbagyi people fight for land money


Abuja, Federal Capital Territory

Metropolitan population: 2.2 million

About Dilemma X

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