Our quest to get the information that Kenyans deserve to see
Last updated: 23 September 2021
This page provides updates on the court case filed by Okoa Momabsa and the Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) to obtain contracts, agreements and studies related to the construction and operation of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
The KES 450 billion (USD 4.2 billion) SGR is the most expensive infrastructure project in Kenya’s history, and was financed mostly via loans through the Export-Import Bank of China. President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to release the contracts in 2018, but has yet to follow through.
Despite the enormous cost to Kenyan taxpayers, agreements and studies related to the project and its financing have never been made public.
Our petition argues that Kenya’s Constitution prohibits confidential contracts for infrastructure projects like the SGR, which demand public participation and accountability. Kenyans have a right to know how their taxes are being spent, to participate in those decisions and to hold their government accountable. We can’t participate if we don’t have the basic information with which to form our opinions.
Our video explains more:
Okoa Mombasa’s quest to obtain the SGR conracts stretches back to 16 December 2019. That’s when we filed an Access to Information (ATI) request with the Government of Kenya, seeking the release of agreements, contracts and other documents relating both to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and Container Terminal 2 (CT2) at the Port of Mombasa.
Our request from December 2019 was simple: We wanted the government to #ShowUsTheContracts, as is our right under Kenya’s constitution. Our ATI request demanded these documents from various government entities.
Unfortunately, over one and a half years later, we have yet to receive a substantive response. That’s why we filed suit.
Our original ATI requests and government responses can be found in the table at the bottom of this page.
Note: a number of the responses below are from the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the government agency tasked with ensuring enforcement of the Access to Information Act. These letters were sent to the government agencies at issue, demanding release of the documents. These were mostly ignored.
Key case documents
Table of responses: Access to Information Request for SGR & CT2 contracts
|17/12/2019||Okoa Mombasa||Full request||Okoa Mombasa's original ATI request.|
|18/12/2019||Kenya Railways||Full letter||Refused to provide documents. “Not able to provide the information on account of Section 6(1) and (2) Access to Information Act and due to contractual obligations of the parties.”|
|23/12/2019||Okoa Mombasa||Full letter||Our response to Kenya Railways' 18 Dec 2019 letter, asking for clarifications re non-disclosure.|
|17/01/2020||Office of the Ombudsman||Full letter||Letter from the Ombudsman to the Ministry of Transport, demanding compliance with Okoa Mombasa's ATI request.|
|17/01/2020||Office of the Ombudsman||Full letter||Letter from the Ombudsman to the Kenya Ports Authority, demanding compliance with Okoa Mombasa's ATI request.|
|17/01/2020||Office of the Ombudsman||Full letter||Letter from the Ombudsman to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, demanding compliance with Okoa Mombasa's ATI request.|
|17/01/2020||Office of the Ombudsman||Full letter||Letter from the Ombudsman to the Registrar General, demanding compliance with Okoa Mombasa's ATI request.|
|06/02/2020||Kenya National Bureau of Statistics||Full letter|
|Response to the Ombudsman's 17 Jan 2020 letter, providing statistics for the SGR & Port of Mombasa|
|06/03/2020||Registrar General||Full letter||Response to the Ombudsman's 17 Jan 2020 letter, requesting payment for the documents requested (650 Ksh search fee & 500 Ksh per page for certified copies).|
|12/03/2020||Office of the Ombudsman||Full letter||Letter from the Ombudsman in response to the Registrar General's 6 March 2020 letter.|
|16/03/2020||Office of the Ombudsman||Full letter||Letter from the Ombudsman, noting that Kenya Railways has not complied with Okoa Mombasa's ATI request, and demanding compliance.|
|17/04/2020||Kenya Railways||Full letter||Letter from Kenya Railways to the Ombudsman, explaining why they will not disclose the records that Okoa Mombasa seeks.|
|06/05/2020||Office of the Ombudsman||Full letter||Letter from the Ombudsman, forwarding Kenya Railways' letter of 17 April 2020 to Okoa Mombasa|
|28/05/2020||Okoa Mombasa||Full request||Okoa Mombasa resends its original ATI request to the Solicitor General, as directed in a letter from Kenya Railways.|
|28/08/2020||Office of the Attorney General||Full letter||Claims their office does not have the documents requested (despite Kenya Railways statement to the contrary on 17/4/2020). Further notes that even if they did have the documents, they could not release due to "nondisclosure agreements" that might lead to "serious legal and financial repercussions."|
|13/05/2021||Okoa Mombasa||Full request||Additional request for the same documents, addressed to the National Treasury.|