Have you ever felt like getting information from government bodies is akin to yanking teeth out with your bare hands? Do you need any of the services in this regard improved? Well, you have your chance to voice all these as members of the public and all stakeholders have been invited for public participation and engagement on the Draft Access to Information Regulations.

The rules by  The Commission on Administrative Justice (Office of the Ombudsman) are expected to regulate how government bodies respond to public requests for information and a good example is the Covid-19 times where the public may require crucial information to their daily lives. The absence of correct information creates a void that is often filled with half-truths and speculations that can lead to panic or wrong decisions.

Basically, the new regulations will provide for the process for proactive disclosure of information by public entities and private bodies; the procedure for requesting access to information pursuant to the Act; record-keeping by public entities and private bodies.

It also caters to the procedure for reviewing a complaint of denial of access or refusal to correct a record; oversight of compliance on the provisions of the Act; and the procedure for reporting by public entities and private bodies.

A coalition of workers’ unions, businesses and professional associations, civil society called Okoa Mombasa is one of the organizations that come out to encourage citizens to come out and air their views citing their own failure to get information related to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) requested two years ago as an example for the need of new regulations.

“Okoa Mombasa encourages all members of the public to submit their comments. The coalition filed an Access to Information request in December 2019 seeking the release of agreements, contracts and other documents relating to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), but has not yet received a substantive response – over a year after the deadline passed,” said the coalition in a tweet.

You can access the new regulations here.

The comment period is open to all members of the public until 30th June 2021. Written submissions or comments should be forwarded to the Ombudsman at atiregulations@ombudsman.go.ke.