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Court summon for Kenya Railways, AG's office on railway tender

07 February 2014, 19:07 Millicent Kawii

Nairobi - The Kenya Railways Corporation (KPC), the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) and the Attorney General have at least two weeks to respond to a case challenging the Standard Gauge Railway project.

High Court judge David Majanja directed that the respondents be served with the suit papers for a speedy determination on the five judge bench request to hear the case.

“Having considered your application, I certify the matter urgent, parties to be served within 14 days and to get directions on the 5 judge bench request on February 21,” said Justice Majanja.

Activists Okiya Omtata and Wycliffe Gisebe had on Wednesday, under a certificate of urgency,  requested Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to form a five judge bench to hear a petition challenging the procurement services for the construction of the new Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba /Kisumu Standard Gauge Railway Line.

Mr Omtata and Mr Gisebe had demanded for a speedy hearing of the case and a stop to the whole process concerning the project in a bid to save the tax payers money.

In the petition, it is alleged that during tendering, the project was single sourced which in turn puts at risk taxpayers for being overbilled billions of shillings paying for a very expensive project whose value cannot be independently ascertained.

“KPC, PPOA, and the AG have irregularly procured services for the turnkey construction of the railway line, supply and delivery of locomotives, freight wagons, passenger trains and rolling stock, through single sourcing instead of employing a procurement methodology that would ensure best value for money through a process that would allow competitive bidding,” Mr Omtata and Mr Gisebe they said.

While acknowledging the importance of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba/Kisumu Standard Gauge Railway line to East and Central Africa they added that they are merely opposed to the scandalous violations of the Constitution and the manner the project was procured and is being implemented.

They have faulted KPC, PPOA and Mr Githu Muigai for being deceitful and misleading to Kenyans that the railway will be "Kenya's largest foreign direct investment since independence”.

They argue that the project is not a direct investment where the investor is expected to invest their own resources without involving any pay back but it is one financed through loans which Kenyans will have to repay.

They further allege that there is no contract signed between the Chinese and Kenyan Governments with regards to the project.

In reference to evidence alleged to be in their possession KPC, PPOA and Mr Githu have violated the Constitution, the Public Procurement And Disposal Act, the Public Officer Ethics Act, and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, in the manner they have irregularly procured the services for the project.

“The actions and omissions are a fraudulent scheme designed to procure the standard railway at artificial, non-competitive price levels and to deprive the Kenyan taxpayers the benefits of free and open competition,” petitioners said.

Mr Omtata and Mr Gisebe’s case is the second to be filed challenging the new Railway project.

Last year the Dock Workers Union alongside Mr Twalib Bwajuma and Mr Khalid Hussein Mwinyi challenged the laying of the foundation of the railway line a day before it was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Justice George Odunga had ruled that the petitioners had raised serious issues with regards to the tendering process but declined to grant an order to stop the launch of the project.

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