By Eric Olander
Kenya’s transportation minister Joseph Njoroge reaffirmed the government’s longstanding refusal to make public the $3.9 billion contract with the state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) to build the Standard Gauge Railway.
Njoroge’s cited a host of reasons for rejecting the appeal made by a pair of civil society activists who’ve taken the government to court in an effort to force the Transportation Ministry to reveal the terms of the contract.
The transport head said in an affidavit submitted to the High Court in Mombasa that publishing the contract would violate non-disclosure clauses in the agreement as well as “endanger national security and injure foreign relations,” according to Business Daily.
Njoroge is just the latest high-level Kenyan official to publicly oppose the publication of the SGR contract. Last August, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said the case against the government is “incurably defective.”
The government’s position has shifted in this round of the fight to include national security as the justification for keeping the CRBC contract secret. Until now, the government has struggled to defend its position, given that Kenya’s procurement laws are quite clear that large-scale publicly financed infrastructure contracts are legally required to be made available to the public for review.
In a separate ruling in 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled against the state-owned company Kenya Railways and said the contract to build the SGR violated procurement laws by not subjecting the bid to a “fair, competitive and transparent procurement process.“
What Do the Two Activists Suing the Government Want?
- FULL TRANSPARENCY: 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. (DAILY NATION)
- FEASIBILITY STUDIES: [Their] request includes all contracts for the feasibility studies relating to construction, operation, and servicing of the SGR. They had also requested documents relating to the financing of the construction, management, operation, and servicing of SGR which were prepared by the government or a third party on behalf of the government. (THE STAR)
Credit| The ChinaAfrica Project