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State rejects once again plea to make SGR contract public

train

SGR cargo train. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Transport Principal Secretary Dr Joseph Njoroge says in court documents that agreements entered between the government and Chinese contractors over the construction of Sh450 billion SGR have non-disclosure clauses.
  • Through an affidavit, Dr Njoroge further says that it would be in breach of contractual terms of the agreements if two activists are supplied with them.
  • The PS further says that the petitioners have failed to articulate the necessity of the documents and beneficial actions in the interest of the public they are to undertake upon receiving the documents.

The government has once again rejected a plea to make public the standard gauge railway contracts.

Transport Principal Secretary Dr Joseph Njoroge says in court documents that agreements entered between the government and Chinese contractors over the construction of Sh450 billion SGR have non-disclosure clauses.

Through an affidavit, Dr Njoroge further says that it would be in breach of contractual terms of the agreements if two activists are supplied with them.

“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,” says Dr Njoroge.

Dr Njoroge says that if the orders sought are granted, it would endanger national security and injure foreign relations between the states that the country has entered into bilateral agreements with and would stifle the successful implementation of the National Transport Policy.

The PS further says that the petitioners have failed to articulate the necessity of the documents and beneficial actions in the interest of the public they are to undertake upon receiving the documents.

The PS says that the respondents’ discretion not to disclose the documents sought is constitutional and protected by under Section 6(10) and (20) of Access to Information Act since the disclosure is likely to undermine national security.

Dr Njoroge further states that terms in the contract touch on foreign government information with implications on national security and foreign relations.

The PS also says that the disclosure is also likely to cause substantial harm to the ability of the government to manage the economy of the country in the event of breach terms of agreements with foreign nations or corporations.

The petitioners want 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.

They argue that documents related to the project and its financing have never been made public despite it being the most expensive project done by the government.

“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,” argue the petitioners.

The case will be mentioned on March 31.

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