By Allan Tawai
The government has warned Machakos residents to keep off the Standard Gauge Railway or receive the full arm of the law.
Athi River deputy county commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said those vandalizing the railway line were endangering lives of those who use the Madaraka Express train on daily basis as means of transport between Nairobi and Mombasa towns.
“The government is serious on Standard Gauge Railways project and we will deal ruthlessly with anybody who attempts to vandalize it,” he said.
Speaking from his office on Monday, Omoding said the lawbreakers were signing their death sentences. He added that there was a cartel that operates along the SGR between Nairobi and Athi River stealing its metals.
“They are endangering lives of those using the Railway, their lives will be at risk. We have deployed more police officers for intensified surveillance along the SGR line to ensure there is no vandalism at all,” said Omoding.
One person was shot dead by police and another arrested after they were found vandalizing the rail in Athi River, Machakos County on Sunday.
“We will trace the scrap metal dealers who buy metals stolen by the culprits from the SGR line, we will not spare them since they are the ones encouraging the illicit trade and SGR vandalization,” added the official.
He said the culprits must be well informed on the SGR’s operations since they had attempted to vandalize its watch tower at Syokimau a few weeks ago.
“They had attempted to vandalize the watch tower at Syokimau, they must be well informed on operations of the Railway line,” said Omoding.
Omoding said all residents living along the line between Nairobi and Mombasa should be alert and report any suspects of the rail’s vandalization.
“The message should transcend the country so that the SGR project is protected whenever it passes through,” said Omoding.
He said they had been alert since the criminals attempted in vain to vandalize the watchtower.
“Since the time they attempted to vandalize the watch tower, we knew something was on the offing, we have been liaising with SGR police, Athi River police and local residents to monitor the SGR line 24/07. We did not know their intention,” said Omoding.
The deputy county commissioner said the SGR line should be completely re-enforced to make stealing its metal difficult for the criminals.
He commended the police for effecting the arrests and called on the locals to report to police any suspicious characters trading along the SGR line.