MOMBASA (17 DEC 2019) – Okoa Momabsa has filed an Access to Information request with the Government of Kenya, seeking the release of agreements, contracts and other documents relating to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and Container Terminal 2 (CT2) at the Port of Mombasa.
The two public infrastructure projects have been shrouded in secrecy and marred by a lack of public participation, despite their massive cost and sweeping impact on Kenya’s economy.
“Kenyans are tired of the government treating us like children, and we are tired of information about public projects being filtered,” said Khelef Khalifa, chairman of Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) and an Okoa Mombasa member. “The government should not be able to mortgage the future of our country in secret. We have a right to participate in these decisions.”
“Our request is simple: Show us the contracts so we can decide for ourselves. This is our right under the Constitution.”
The US$3.6 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. Despite the enormous cost, agreements related to the project’s financing have never been made public. President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to release the contracts in 2018, but has yet to follow through.
Recent reports indicate that the SGR is incapable of producing enough revenue to repay the loans used to build it, leaving taxpayers on the hook. In an attempt to shore up revenues, the Government has been forcing cargo from the Port of Mombasa to be loaded exclusively onto the SGR and shipped to Nairobi, bypassing the network of port operations in the Coast region. The move has caused the collapse of Mombasa’s economy, which depends heavily on the port.
Okoa Momabsa has requested all agreements entered between the Government or any State agency with all service providers and or third parties, including foreign governments, in regard to the SGR.
CT2, meanwhile, is one of the most modern container terminals in East Africa, and a highly profitable asset for its public operator, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). The terminal recently underwent a massive overhaul funded at taxpayer expense. Despite its success, the Government wants to transfer the terminal to Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL), which is 47% owned by the private Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). The takeover was blocked by a court in October, but the government is appealing the ruling.
Okoa Mombasa believes the privatization of CT2 could lead to the loss of thousands of well-paid, union jobs, as detailed in our factsheet. Our request calls for the release of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government, KNSL and MSC relating to the operation of CT2.
The Access to Information request was formally served on 16 Dec 2019. Under Section 9 of the Access to Information Act, the Government has 21 days to respond to the request.
You can read the full request here.
Okoa Mombasa will be holding a press conference on Thursday, 19 Dec 2019, to discuss the Access to Information Request. The press conference will be held at the Royal Court Hotel in Mombasa and run from 10 am to noon.