Migori's dusty road at the center of Justice Ojwang's woes

The road entering Justice Ojwang’s home from the alleged road constructed in Kakrao village in Suna East sub-county the road that connects two sub-counties. [Caleb Kingwara/Standard]
A dusty and bumpy three-kilometer stretch of road that links the Kisumu-Isebania highway to the sleepy hinterland is at the heart of a top judge’s woes.

Driving through the Kakrao (Likowa Junction)-Rayudhi-Ojele road is a nightmare because of the swirling thick dust, deep potholes and swerving motorcyclists.

This access road is six metres wide, but at a junction to Supreme Court Judge Jackton Boma Ojwang’s home, three kilometers from the main road, it narrows to about three metres.

Justice Ojwang’s house is situated 300 metres down this feeder road, which despite appearing disused, is not in a better state of repair as it winds its way deeper into the countryside.

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Talking to villagers and cyclists yesterday, the majority were unaware that the murramed road had led to Justice Ojwang’s suspension from the Judiciary and the formation of a seven-member tribunal to interrogate his conduct.

A boda boda rider waiting for clients at the junction to Justice Ojwang’s home said he was not aware of any controversy surrounding the road.

The Standard saw a survey report sent to the Judicial Service Commission that described the road as public.

In the report, Migori County Surveyor Peter Wanjala says they visited the road last March 5, at the request of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a tribunal to investigate the judge.

“One does not get the feeling that this road was extended from point B to point D to simply access Justice Ojwang’s home,” says Mr Wanjala.

Good connection

He adds: “The said extension provides a good connection to other public access roads towards the south west to enable the public navigate back to Migori town.”

Wanjala reports that the road was not in good condition, either. “The state of the access road is wanting because the paved width is barely three metres and without proper drainage. There are no signs of recent murraming.”

The surveyor concludes that the road is not a private facility. “Apparently, the road has been in use for some years now by the general public and not exclusively by Justice Ojwang’ alone.”

Wanjala notes that closing the road will have a negative impact on the surrounding community, which uses it as a convenient passage to Migori town from Kakrao market.

One of the complaints against Justice Ojwang’ is that the road was built on the orders of Governor Okoth Obado, as a gift to the judge for allegedly issuing a favourable judicial ruling.

The claim is linked to the hearing of a case on the Awendo sugar belt, which was filed by the Town Council of Awendo in the Supreme Court in 2014 against 13 residents who were challenging acquisition of land by the Government to develop the South Nyanza sugar scheme and expand Awendo town.

The case was filed by Nelson Oduor Onyango, Mijungu Misweta, Hezron Otieno, Rosalina Nyakure, Jairo Owino Odera, Timotheo Raymo Okwach, Obiero Omedo, Eliud Ogutu Sirama, Joseph Omondi Rongo, James Omondi Anindo, Joseph Oduor Ochome, John Onyango Dawo and Charles Obunga Okombo.

Denied claims

The same people later filed a petition before the JSC, accusing Justice Ojwang’ of receiving the road as a kickback for issuing orders in favour of the town council.

The petitioners said that during the hearing, the judge failed to disclose that Mr Obado was his friend.

But the Governor has denied the claims linking him to the road. Speaking to reporters in Migori, Obado said the road’s construction was part of initiatives the county government had put in place to open up the region.

“We are delivering services to our people through building public roads, among other activities. My government is not doing roads for individual persons. We have not built any road to any individual person’s home as alleged,” said Mr Obado.

He added: “This is the kind of political propaganda that is hindering development in devolved units.”

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Justice Jacktone OjwangSupreme Court Judge OjwangKisumu-Isebania highway