Members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) came face to face with challenges facing litigants and judicial officers in various parts of the country.
The JSC members engaged the public, judicial officers and litigants as it went on a fact-finding mission in Nakuru, Trans Nzoia, Murang’a and Nyeri counties.
In Murang’a and Nyeri counties, judiciary workers raised concerns about their current working conditions.
The employees told members of JSC, led by vice chairperson Macharia Njeru, to consider a member of their cadre to sit on the commission.
They also called for the review of their salaries and allowances to match the cost of living, saying their salaries were last reviewed in 2013.
They also called for the introduction of a benchmarking programme in African and European countries that are ranked the best in the administration of justice.
JSC Human Resource Committee Chairman Justice Mohammed Warsame said the issue will be considered once the employees place their request to the commission.
In Nyeri, Macharia noted that what judicial officers have been earning was not commensurate with the work they do.
Macharia told the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to stop reviewing the salary of judicial staff, noting that it’s the mandate of the JSC to review staff salaries and promotions.
Macharia observed that there was a challenge in judicial staffing and that more than 200 typists would be hired to fill the gap.
In Naivasha, Nakuru County, the Judiciary embarked on a multi-million-shilling project to power law courts with solar energy in the wake of power outages and high electricity prices.
Under the programme, the courts will use Sh40 million in the first phase, with the cash devolved to the courts to hasten the procurement process.
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Commissioner Everlyne Olwande noted that many courts did not have backup generators, and outages were affecting service delivery.
She said that in their supplementary budget, they were seeking an extra Sh100 million, which would be used to power the courts through solar.
“We have already set aside Sh40 million for the solar project as the courts go green and in the wake of the rising cost of power and frequent outages,” she said.
Olwande said that the commission would assist the Naivasha Law Courts in setting up a Child Protection Unit as currently, they rely on Nakuru courts.
Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Ann Amadi admitted that the department was facing a financial crisis across the country.
“Currently, the Judiciary is facing financial challenges but we are working with the little we have to improve service delivery,” she said.
In Tran Nzoia, Kitale Chief Magistrate Julius Ng’arng’ar presided over the first forum where the public was educated on the litigation process.
Other areas addressed by the court officials included the existence of bogus lawyers and brokers who are out to con the public.
Ng’arng’ar urged the public to embrace Alternative dispute resolution and Alternative Justice system.
“There is a need for Kenyans to embrace meditation as it minimizes costs and also helps the court to tackle the backlog of cases,” he said.
[Boniface Gikandi, Purity Mwangi, Osinde Obare and Antony Gitonga]