Two activists have sued to have the state compelled to release information on how much of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) loan it has paid back and the balance.
Mr Caleb Ngwena and Ms Millicent Odhiambo also want the Cabinet secretaries for the Treasury and Transport, Kenya Railways, the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Attorney-General to make public how much money has been collected from SGR operations.
In their petition in the High Court in Mombasa, the activists also want the government to make public how much money has been collected from the Railway Development Levy (RDL) since 2013 and the amount spent.
They say they need the information to file a substantive case to challenge the construction of the SGR, its financing and management.
“The petitioners are filing this suit as a public interest litigation and have already demanded … the documents from the respondents in vain,” the petition states.
They argue that even before the SGR was built, the government was taxing citizens via RDL, charged on all imported finished goods, to fund the construction and operations of the rail line.
“The conservative estimates show that since 2013, RDL has generated ($920 million) based on the growth in the value of imports, which increased from ($13.2 billion) in 2012 to ($17 billion) in 2013,” they say.
They also argue that Africa Star Railway Operations Company (Afristar), a Chinese firm, managed the SGR until last year when Kenya Railways took over.
The petitioners also want the agreement between Kenya Railways and Afristar made public and information on the loan deal between the government and China Exim Bank made public.
They also want to know the security used for the loan.
As long as the SGR project continues to be shrouded in secrecy without financial accountability, they argue, citizens’ constitutional rights will continue to be violated.
They accuse the Transport and Treasury ministers, Kenya Railways and KRA of failing to give them the information.
“To date, the petitioner is unable to establish why the four respondents have declined to provide the information,” the petitioners say in court documents.