Bumpy ride as Govt hit with another claim on SGR

by Wakili Liam
SGR workstation

A petition, demanding for the disclosure of SGR contracts, has been field at the High Court in Mombasa.

The Okoa Mombasa lobby alongside The Institute for Social accountability (TISA) seek to obtain all agreements and studies related to the construction and operation of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The petitioners argue the Constitution prohibits confidential contracts for public infrastructure projects as they further lament the lack of public participation in the project’s financing.

“We have a right to know the details of the project, how our money is being spent, the consequences of a loan default and the government’s decision-making processes in signing the deal. Right now, we know none of this-the Kenyan public is completely in the dark,” said Okoa Mombasa member Khelef Khalifa.

The quest for the contracts by the pair of entities have stemmed from the project’s perceived negative impact on the Coast region’s economy.

A 2019 decision to have all containerized cargo at the port of Mombasa be transported in land via the SGR, forced logistics companies to move their operations to inland container depots (ICDNs) has allegedly resulted to the devastation of the Mombasa-port based economy.

A court decision made last year declared the directive illegal but the initiative remains in play pending the hearing and determination of an appeal by the State.

Monday’s petition is a last resort after alternative means to obtain the SGR documentation proved unsuccessful.

The coalition for instance filed access to information requests with various government offices in December 2019 but has failed to receive any substantive replies.

“Given the government’s lack of response, Okoa Mombasa petitioned the High Court of Kenya on 21 June 2021 to enforce the right of access to information. We believe that the failure to provide the information or to make it proactively available as required in the Constitution is a violation of the petitioner’s right to access information” the petitioners added.

“Without this information, the petitioner is further prevented from exercising their right to public participation. The refusal to provide the requested information contravenes public finance management principles of transparency and accountability protected by the Constitution.”

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