Okoa Mombasa has asked a court to jail two government officials for contempt of court following their failure to comply with a 2022 judgment ordering the release of contracts related to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
The motion, which was filed last week, alleges that government officials have “deliberately disobeyed” a court order issued on the 16th of May 2022 which required the government to hand over all agreements, contracts and other documents relating to the construction, financing and operation of the SGR.
The filing asks the court to impose a six-month jail term, or other penalty as the court sees fit, on Chris Kiptoo (Principal Secretary, National Treasury and Planning) and Mohamed Daghar (Principal Secretary, State Department for Transport). It also asks the court to order the officials to appear before the court and show cause why such penalties should not be imposed.
“The acts of the Respondents … demonstrate utter disdain for court orders and judicial processes,” Okoa Mombasa Khelef Khalifa stated in an affidavit supporting the motion. “The Respondents have recklessly and with utmost disregard of the Constitution and the Court engaged in acts that are a complete challenge to the authority of this Honourable Court and its processes.”
Okoa Mombasa has been attempting since 2019 to obtain the SGR documents through Access to Information Act requests, but the government has refused, citing confidentiality clauses and issues of national security. In 2021, we filed a petition in the High Court demanding that the government comply with our ATI requests.
In May 2022, the court ruled in our favor and found that the government’s failure to disclose the documents violated Article 10 of the Constitution and the Access to Information Act. The government has yet to comply with that judgment, however, despite our repeated demands.
In December 2023, we obtained three previously unreleased contracts through non-governmental channels, but we believe there are more yet to be uncovered. The three new contracts can be viewed here.
The urgency of making the SGR contract documents public was recently underscored by the findings of an investigation by former government auditor Bernard Muchere. In a detailed analysis, he alleged massive irregularities and fraud in the SGR financing – including a possible overpayment of Ksh 777 billion. Okoa Mombasa believes that obtaining all SGR documentation is essential for holding officials accountable for possible fraud.
For more on our quest to obtain the SGR contracts, see here.