Embu East deputy county commissioner’s office that was built at a cost of Sh29million only. [PHOTO: KIBATA KIHU]

EMBU COUNTY: A parliamentary committee has questioned the millions of shillings that the Judiciary allocated for building seemingly prefabricated courtrooms in various parts of the country.

Speaking when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) team led by the vice-chair Cecily Mbarire toured a courtroom under construction in Runyenjes, the House team promised to invite experts to do a valuation of the buildings and explain the exorbitant costs.

PAC members who also included Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki, Jude Njomo (Kiambu town) and Jackson Rop (Kipkelion West) wondered why Sh100million was allocated to build the Runyenjes prefabricated courtroom yet the bigger, stone-built deputy county commissioner's office used up only Sh29million.

"It raises questions why the wooden and smaller courtroom should consume Sh100million whereas the sub-county headquarters built using high quality material and is twice bigger than the courtroom consumed only Sh29million," said Njomo.

He said the Judicial Service Commission has highly trained experts who could advise on such matters and ensure value for taxpayer's money spent on buildings. He challenged the public and other interested parties to visit the two buildings that are less than 100 metres apart and compare notes on their costs.

The Maara MP said a special audit of the Judiciary by the Auditor General's office exposed the rot in the institution, which she said was also apparent in some court's buildings. The members also raised concern at the slow pace at which the prefabricated courtroom was being constructed yet the current Runyenjes courtroom was in a deplorable state.

According to Mbarire, construction of the prefabricated courtroom began in May last year and should have taken six months. She said upon inquiry, they realised that no contractor was on the ground, meaning the work had stalled. She urged the Judiciary to ensure work resumes to give a wider space for effective delivery of justice.

Mbarire said whereas they had no issues with the design and quality of work done so far, their concern was the huge amount used. She said they were waiting to see if the money would also be used to furnish the offices.

Mbiuki said the building could have stalled because the contractors had not been paid and asked Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to expedite the payments. Embu East deputy county commissioner Tom Macheneri said his office and the Runyenjes Judiciary officials are not being involved in the construction.