The government is doubling down on its refusal to make public contracts signed with China for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) – the largest infrastructure project in the history of independent Kenya.
Activists including Khelef Khalifa had moved to court maintaining that the refusal by the government contravened laws on Access to Information and transparency. The State, however, cites non-disclosure clauses, national security and foreign relations for its stance.
In an affidavit, Transport Principal Secretary Dr Joseph Njoroge stated that making the contracts public would jeopardize implementation of the national transport policy in addition to compromising national security and bilateral agreements.
He argued that the decision to keep the contract sealed was legal and protected by Section 6(10) and (20) of the Access to Information Act on information that could undermine national security.
“Upon receipt of the request for information from the petitioners (Ms Wanjiru Gikonyo and Khelef Khalifa) Kenya Railways Corporation responded and explained that the contracts of the projects to which information is being requested are between the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Kenya,” he stated.
Njoroge argued that disclosing the contract would disadvantage the government in its response to the breaching of various agreements with other countries.
He further argued that the activists had failed to articulate why it was crucial that details of the Ksh450B project agreement be made public and the beneficial actions they would undertake in the interests of the public in such a scenario.
The activists had sought to have all contracts, agreements and studies related to the construction and operations of the SGR made public.
“SGR is the largest capital-intensive infrastructure project ever constructed in the country, but despite this extraordinary expenditure of public funds, the project has been undertaken with controversy and secrecy from its inception,” they argue.
The case will be mentioned on March 21, 2022.