Kenya activist takes railway project to court, again

Prominent Kenyan activist Okiah Omtatah has again gone to a Nairobi court in hopes of suspending construction of a $3.8-billion railway project linking Kenya to neighboring Uganda

Prominent Kenyan activist Okiah Omtatah has again gone to a Nairobi court in hopes of suspending construction of a $3.8-billion railway project linking Kenya to neighboring Uganda

NAIROBI – Prominent Kenyan activist Okiah Omtatah has again gone to a Nairobi court in hopes of suspending construction of a $3.8-billion railway project linking Kenya to neighboring Uganda.

In a fresh petition lodged with Nairobi High Court Judge David Majanja, Omtatah called for the court to order a freeze on construction of the railway until a petition he filed earlier – against the unilateral awarding of the construction tender to a Chinese Company – could be heard by another court.

The construction deal was signed on May 10 in capital Nairobi by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

"We are seeking orders from this honorable court to freeze the financial contract that the Kenyan government signed with the Chinese prime minister," Omtatah told Judge Majanja.

"We want a freeze on the deal to be effected until the matter is heard and determined," Omtatah said.

The activist, representing Kenyan civil society, pleaded with the court to order the government to provide him and his supporters with a copy of the agreement.

"We want to read the deal and scrutinize its contents so that we know what Kenyans are being committed to," he said.

The petition will be reviewed on Monday, when a government attorney is expected to respond to Omtatah's request.

In his earlier petition, Omtatah had argued that the government had wrongfully single-sourced the construction tender to the China Roads and Bridges Corporation.

Omtatah claims the Chinese contractor has been blacklisted by the World Bank from undertaking contracts due to past allegations of corruption related to its business in the Philippines.

According to the Kenyan authorities, 609km of rail track is expected to be completed by 2016. It will link Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa to landlocked neighbors Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

China will contribute 90 percent of the $3.8-billion cost of the project while Kenya will pay the remainder, according to the terms of the agreement.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency