It will be the death sentence for wreckers of the Standard Gauge Railway who will be charged with economic sabotage that attracts capital punishment. That was the stern warning by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday as he reacted to reports that some people had been caught vandalising the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) near Mariakani, Kilifi county.
While calling upon Kenyans of all walks of life to shed their differences and join hands in celebrating the historic milestone to economic transformation, Uhuru said the government will not allow individuals with ill motives to destroy the inheritance of future generations.
Uhuru minced no words as he said that acts of destruction targeting the economy such as vandalism of the railway would be considered economic sabotage, punishable by death.
“As a President, I have the power to approve the death penalty but I have never appended my signature to allow any execution so far because, personally, I don’t want to be that kind of a President who approves people to be hanged.
However, for suspects of this particular case of economic sabotage, vandalising the SGR, God will forgive me but I will be ready and willing to append my signature for such suspects to be hanged,” said the President, adding that there will be no mercy for elements of economic sabotage.
“As usual there are those who are always pessimistic about everything and you will find some going to vandalise the railway or interfering with electricity deliberately so that the government can be deemed bad.
This rail project is an investment achieved using taxpayers’ money and if you think that by doing anything negative you are trying to fight me, my friend you are wrong, because you are playing games with taxpayers’ investment,” he said before commissioning the first SGR passenger service from the Miritini, Mombasa, Terminus.
The President observed that as the train – labelled Madaraka Express – rolled out of the platform for its maiden journey, a few challenges will be expected, but he urged Kenyans to be patient as greater economic benefits are expected out of the Sh327 billion investment.
While admitting that achieving the project has been a labourious undertaking meandering through challenging times, including opposition by political forces and court battles, the Head of State said that gains the SGR would be immense and long-term.
He directed the Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to ensure that the road to the Mombasa terminus station was improved and a matatu station is established nearby to make it easy for ordinary Kenyans to access the service.
Deputy President William Ruto said there were many who dreamt of the project but it is the Jubilee administration that has brought it to reality, noting that the SGR is the single-most transformative piece of infrastructure in the East African region.