Vandalising the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will attract stiff penalties of up to 10 years in jail and Sh1 million fine, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko has warned.
The DPP’s warning came on a day when President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the cargo service of the SGR, with the passenger journey set to be flagged off Wednesday. Later, president said he would commission the execution of people convicted of vandalising the railway and sabotaging the economy.
In a statement, Mr Tobiko said four suspects already in custody will be charged under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, setting them up for the tougher penalties. Parts of the railway infrastructure were reportedly stolen last week.
“All those identified and apprehended will face the full force of the law and will be charged and prosecuted not as petty thieves but as organised criminals and economic saboteurs,” Mr Tobiko said in a statement. “Further, where evidence warrants, they will be charged with appropriate capital offences.”
Mr Tobiko said the railway is a vital national infrastructure, necessitating the tougher penalties.
Vandals stole parts of rail guards and destroyed communication cables, the chief prosecutor said. The government is shifting more prosecutions of crimes relating to damage of public property to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act which lays out harsher punishment compared to other laws.
Telecommunications firms and utilities were among the first to lobby for the tougher penalties after suffering major losses from destroyed cables and electrical transformers.
Among crimes identified in the Act is the damage of public property. “A person convicted of an offence under this part shall be liable to … a fine not exceeding one million shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both,” the law reads in part. “An additional mandatory fine if, as a result of the conduct that constituted the offence, the person received a quantifiable benefit or any other person suffered a quantifiable loss.”
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The mandatory fine is set at twice the loss arising from damage to public property and can be higher if it is demonstrated that the convict also derived a personal benefit from the crime. The new railway is set to become the most important artery in Kenya’s transport network, hauling passengers and cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi in the first phase.
The railway promises greater speed and lower charges compared to truckers. The line, covering some 609 kilometres, has attracted vandals mainly targeting metals. A wave of vandalism of electricity and telecommunications installations prompted the government to enact the Scrap Metal Act 2015, which bans the export of scrap metal in any form.
Export of scrap metal without the approval of the industrialisation ministry attracts a fine not exceeding Sh10 million, a five-year jail term or both. The law also lays out various penalties that rises in severity for repeat offences including for illegal dealing in scrap metal.
“Any person who (deals in scrap metal without a licence) … commits an offence and is liable on conviction for a first offence to a fine not exceeding ten million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both,” the law reads in part.
“For a second or subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding twenty million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.” (Copyright: Business Daily)