Kenya arrests two top officials for suspected corruption over new $3 billion railway

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Train arrives on the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Train arrives on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi

By Humphrey Malalo

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan authorities have arrested the head of the agency that manages public land and the boss of the state railway on suspicion of corruption over land allocation for the new $3-billion flagship Nairobi-Mombasa railway.

The line connecting the capital with East Africa’s main port was funded by China and is one of the biggest infrastructure projects of President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose government has embarked on an anti-corruption drive.

Mohammed Abdalla Swazuri, the chairman of National Land Commission, was one of 18 officials, businesspeople and companies named in a statement listing arrests that was posted on Saturday on the prosecutor’s office’s Twitter feed.

Also arrested was Atanas Kariuki Maina, managing director of the Kenya Railways Corporation.

Public prosecutor Noordin Mohamed Haji ordered the arrests and said in the statement he was preparing to charge the officials.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact representatives of Swazuri and Maina for comment.

Kenya last year inaugurated the more than $3 billion railway. No Chinese companies or individuals were named in the prosecutor’s statement.

Kenya has been hit this year by a spate of scandals related to the alleged theft of hundreds of millions of Kenyan shillings (millions of dollars) by officials from government bodies.

Haji, appointed by Kenyatta earlier this year, is bringing charges against dozens of state officials and businesspeople in a number of court cases that have not yet begun.

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