Court Makes Landmark Ruling in SGR Deal Case

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off the Nairobi-Suswa SGR line on October 19, 2019.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off the Nairobi-Suswa SGR line on October 19, 2019.
    FILE
  • The High Court sitting in Mombasa has ordered the government to make public the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) contract.

    In a ruling delivered on Friday, May 13, the court stated that the government did not provide sufficient evidence in its defense to prove that the contract between it and the Chinese government was of national security and thus cannot be disclosed.

    In their petition number E032 of 2021, the petitioners - Khelef Khalifa and Anor - argued that the contract should be made public in line with the Access to Information Act. 

    Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia (second left) and Interior CS Fred Matiang'i (third from left) address the press in Mombasa.
    Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia (second left) and Interior CS Fred Matiang'i (third from left) address the press in Mombasa.
    File

    The court agreed with the petitioners that it was within their rights to get such information from the government, and more so from the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure.

    "The court makes a declaration that failure to disclose information in letter of December 16, 2019, violates Article 35(1) and (3) and Article 10 of the constitution," read the court documents.

    Previously, while appearing before the courts, Transport Principal Secretary, Joseph Njoroge, stated that the contract between the government of Kenya and China was a non-disclosure one.

    The PS maintained that revealing the contracts details would jeopardise the country's security.

    “Upon receipt of the request for information from the petitioners (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.

    On their part, the petitioners argued that the loans used to finance the projects would be paid by Kenyans hence the need to reveal the details of the secret deal.

    “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,” read the petition in part.

    SGR contracts has been at the center of debate among Kenyans and politicians in recent years, including recently when Deputy President, William Ruto, stated that he would revert some of the SGR deals if elected on August 9, claiming certain individuals had hijacked the project.

    "The SGR was intended to make the port much more efficient. Unfortunately, a few people took hostage of the whole program and ended up with selfish programs that benefit a few people to the detriment of the people at the Coast," he claimed.

    DP William Ruto at the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya National Convention, at Nairobi Baptist Church, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
    DP William Ruto at the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya National Convention, at Nairobi Baptist Church, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
    DPPS