Editorials

Lift veil on Chinese projects

sgr

Standard Gauge Railway trains at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • That China-funded projects have been good for our economy is undeniable.
  • The standard gauge railway (SGR), for example, has halved travel time between Nairobi and Mombasa, translating to big cost savings.
  • Neighbouring countries are also reaping its dividends through speedier delivery of transshipment cargo.

That China-funded projects have been good for our economy is undeniable. The standard gauge railway (SGR), for example, has halved travel time between Nairobi and Mombasa, translating to big cost savings.

Neighbouring countries are also reaping its dividends through speedier delivery of transshipment cargo.

But for all the good it has done, the multi-billion shilling project stands tainted by allegations of misuse of funds, inflation of costs, and kickbacks.

The claims stem from the veil of secrecy over the project that is occasionally lifted by piecemeal disclosures, often when taxpayers are required to foot a massive bill.

Such secrecy, also evident in contracts inked for other projects, has seen Kenya ranked highest in Africa in terms of value of China-funded projects (Sh394 billion) that are linked to graft, according to a study by a top US research university.

The only way to cure such bad publicity is through transparency. The government should open contracts to these projects to public scrutiny. On the SGR, President Uhuru Kenyatta has yet to honour his promise to provide details about the contracts.