Activists Sue For Release of Kenya's Railway Project Documents

Two activists, Wanjiru Gikonyo and Khelef Khalifa want all contracts, agreements and studies related to the construction and operations of the railway made public. They argue that keeping the documents confidential violates the law and discourages transparency in governance.

Their concerns are based on fears that the Mombasa Port might have been used as collateral for the Chinese loans that built the rail line, thus exposing it to a takeover by a foreign government in the event that Kenya defaults. They also argue that the secrecy surrounding the standard gauge railway (SGR) project has been aggravated by the fact that it is being operated by Africa Star Railways Company Ltd, a private firm that they allege is paid more than U.S.$9 million per month in operational costs.

The case comes as government statistics show that SGR has operated at a financial loss since its inception in 2017. The petitioners argue that SGR is not making enough money to help in repaying the loans that built it. They argue that disclosing the contracts and agreements relating to the project will foster more informed public participation and debate on SGR and its impact, as well as more accountability and openness in public finance.

InFocus

Standard Gauge Railway train (file photo).

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