The Muslim Women Advancement of Rights and Protection (MWARP) Lamu, a civil society group, has called on the Lamu County government to pass an Access to Information Act, aimed at ensuring easier access to public records and information for the residents. The call was made by MWARP Lamu Coordinator, Umulkheir Ahmed, during a stakeholders’ forum held at the Lamu County Commissioner’s office. Speaking during the forum at the Lamu County Commissioner’s office in Mokowe, Ahmed emphasized the importance of the Access to Information Bill, stating that it would empower the public to hold public institutions accountable for the use of public resources. ‘Together with the County executive and the county assembly, we are working on a Bill that will enable the public to know where and when they can gain access to information, such as the status of bursary and grant issuance,’ she further revealed. Ahmed further highlighted that the proposed legislation would significantly improve public perception regarding the functioning of public institutions. She pointed out that information that should be made public is often not made available to citizens, and the Access to Information Bill would rectify this issue. ‘By law, this will ensure that people have the right to access information, including journalists and state institutions, enhancing public participation, transparency, and good governance,’ emphasized Fahad Changi, MWARP’s Communications, Monitoring, and Evaluation Officer, adding that people should be able to access the information they want without restrictions. MWARP Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Fahad Changi addressing stakeholders at an inception forum at the Lamu County Commissioner’s office in Mokowe over the need to pass an Access to Information Act. Photo by Amenya Ochieng. In response to concerns raised by the civil society group, Lamu County’s Finance Chief Officer, Salma Ali, reiterated the county’s commitment to transparency and accountability. She mentioned that Lamu County had already received an award for transparency and had actively been updating and uploading public information onto their website. Ali assured the public that the county government remains dedicated to ensuring the transparency of public records. Lamu Central Assistant County Commissioner, Philip Oloo, also expressed support for the Access to Information Bill. He stated that once the bill is passed, it will enable the public to easily vet public officers based on the available information. Oloo emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring that no group is marginalized or denied access to information, stressing that citizens have the right to know when and where vital processes such as ID vetting are taking place. ‘The proposed Access to Information Act in Lamu County represents a significant step toward fostering transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement,’ he said.
Source: Kenya News Agency