Economy

Attorney-General appeals court order to make SGR tenders public

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Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • He argued that the two activists had not exhausted all means of dispute resolution available and that the petition was not properly before the court.
  • Activists Khelef Khalifa and Wanjiru Gikonyo sought to have all contracts, agreements and studies related to the construction and operations of the SGR made public.
  • In his ruling, the judge declared that failure by the Attorney General and the Treasury and Transport PSs to provide the information violated the right to access information.

Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki has filed a notice of appeal in a case in which the court ordered the government to provide two activists with agreements related to the construction of the Sh450 billion standard gauge railway (SGR).

Mr Kariuki said in the appeal notice filed through senior State counsel Eunice Mvoi that the government is dissatisfied with Justice John Mativo’s judgment.

He argued that the two activists had not exhausted all means of dispute resolution available and that the petition was not properly before the court.

Activists Khelef Khalifa and Wanjiru Gikonyo sought to have all contracts, agreements and studies related to the construction and operations of the SGR made public, arguing that keeping the documents confidential violates the law and discourages transparency in governance.

“Take notice that the respondents herein being dissatisfied with the entire judgment and orders of Justice Mativo in the High Court of Kenya at Mombasa on May 13, 2022, intends to appeal,” states part of the AG’s notice.

In his ruling, the judge declared that failure by the Attorney General and the Treasury and Transport PSs to provide the information violated the right to access information.

Justice Mativo said if the information sought from the government is not supplied within 21 days as provided by the law, then the request is as good as refused.

He added that any restriction on information that a government seeks to justify on grounds of national security must have a genuine purpose and demonstrable effect of protecting a legitimate national security interest.

Transport PS Joseph Njoroge, in an affidavit filed in court, had said agreements between the government and SGR’s Chinese contractors contained non-disclosure clauses.

Therefore, he said, supplying the activists with the documents would see the State breach contract terms.

The PS added that if the orders sought were granted, it would endanger national security, injure foreign relations between Kenya and China and hinder the implementation of the National Transport Policy.

Transport Principal Secretary Dr Joseph Njoroge in his affidavit filed in court had said that agreements entered between the government and SGR’s Chinese contractors contained non-disclosure clauses, and therefore supplying the activists with the documents would see the State breach contract terms.

The PS added that if the orders sought were granted, it would endanger national security, injure foreign relations between Kenya and China and hinder the implementation of the National Transport Policy.

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