Date of Graduation
The history of the construction of the Uasin Gishu railway demonstrates the complexity of formulating and implementing a colonial development project. It involved an array of actors with divergent interests. As result, the project became the most controversial railway extension in Kenya, which some critics have called a "colonial scandal." The main areas of controversy involved the altering of the original route for the Kisumu to Mumias railway, which was meant to serve the most productive African district in favor of a line starting from Nakuru via Uasin Gishu to Mumias to cater for the interests of European settlers who produced very inadequate traffic to sustain the railway. The main beneficiary of the new route was Ewart Grogan, a famous settler who had acquired a large forest concession in Ravine. Once the government accepted the new route, during construction, the destination was changed from Mumias to Turbo. The awarding of the tender to construct the line was equally controversial and demonstrates the shadowy world of powerbrokers and client-patronage relationships in such decision-making. The contract was given to Sir John Norton Griffiths, a member of parliament, not because of construction competence, but his close association with both the Secretary of State and Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the Colonies. As a result, the railway was poorly constructed, and its cost per mile was much greater than any other railway extension in the country. Furthermore, African Poll and Hut taxes were used to service the loan despite the fact that Africans did not have direct benefits from the project. The settlers served by the line not only refused to pay income tax, but also campaigned to have their produce carried over the line at reduced rates. In addition, African laborers on the project worked under appalling conditions that led to death rate rising to 83 persons per 1000 in 1922. Instead of the local administration intervening to force the company to admit liability, the government instituted a cover up scheme to exonerate both the administration and the company from blame. Thus, the study of the Uasin Gishu railway exposes the various levels of controversy and contradictions that have prompted its critics to call it a major colonial scandal.
Mwaruvie, John Mwaniki, "Political economy of railway extensions in Kenya: The case of the Uasin Gishu Railway, 1901â€“1930." (2005). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9477.