Kenya Railways disowns scheme to oust Chinese firm from running SGR

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Workers use dredger during the construction of the standard gauge railway in Ongata Rongai. The new line connects Nairobi to Suswa and was built by the China Communication Construction Company

Kennedy Ogeto, the SG, had indicated in an advisory mid-last month that the operations and maintenance contract with Afristar should be terminated, as soon as next Saturday. KRC holds the opinion that it was simply an advisory opinion, which however, cannot be understated as the main SGR construction and operations are basically bilateral between Kenya and China. The SG’s office is tasked with following through on every contract entered between the Republic of Kenya and any other entities, in this case China. KRC did not provide any update since the advisory was issued last month, with sources indicating that the parastatal has not responded to the Solicitor General’s position. Further, efforts to obtain the original operations and maintenance contract failed as the officials claimed that there were confidentiality clauses, which bound the terms to secrecy.

It would be noteworthy that the same terms of the contract which KRC claims to be exploitative are the subject of a re-negotiation. Done in secrecy So secretive have been any contracts entered over the SGR that Kenya Railways has declined to provide the ombudsman any details of the agreements, even after the request was made under the Access to Information Act. Mr Mainga told Lucy Ndung’u, the Commissioner for Administrative Justice (Ombudsman), that his hands were tied by the confidentiality clauses on the agreements on any facet of the SGR. “Kindly note that the projects to which information is being requested…are projects between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Kenya with Kenya Railways’ mandate solely being an implementing agency of the said contracts,” Mainga wrote on April 17.

He was responding to Ms Ndung’u’s request made on behalf of a Mr Khelef Khalifa, who had sought the intervention of the Ombudsman after failing to get documentation on SGR directly from the Kenya Railways. It is a response that would help provide a rare view into the agreements relating to the SGR. Despite being managed under severely secretive terms, it is the taxpayer who will meet the entire cost and it is therefore only fair that they are involved.

Source: The Standard

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