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Kisumu courts to end perennial congestion

KISUMU
By MAUREEN ODIWUOR | April 3rd 2014

By MAUREEN ODIWUOR 

KISUMU COUNTY: Residents scramble for space to follow proceedings in court as magistrates struggle to hear witness testimonies in stuffy rooms.

Judges have to wipe sweat trickling down their faces as they record the submissions that would inform their decisions at the end of hearings.

This is a common scenario at the Kisumu Law Courts where small offices that were once registries and chambers have been turned into courtrooms to cater for the huge number of cases filed by litigants.

However, this congestion is going to be a thing of the past as a new three-storey building, set to cost the taxpayer Sh473 million upon completion, is nearly ready for use.

The current building constructed during the colonial era that provides office space to110 judicial staff and hundreds of people who throng the premises in search of justice, will still be used, albeit not actively, after the new one is ready for occupation.

The new palatial building is being worked on by two contractors; Rapido and Bomco, with each receiving a certified contract sum of Sh120,864,279 and Sh334,486,100 respectively.

According to Mr Raghavendra Prabhu who is in charge of the Bomco project, the new court building will have four spacious magistrate courts, four high courts, two Appeal courts and holding rooms, a children’s court, two registries, chambers for each court, a library and archives.

CONSTRUCTION STOPPED

Initially, the building’s construction was stopped after the contractors demanded an increase in the amount budgeted for, claiming the prices of goods had increased.

Bomco took over the works on October 22, 2012, after the site was handed over to them by a previous contractor on October 4.

The date of completion was initially set for October 21, last year.

However, the construction did not take place on the expected date and only began in December 2012.

The first contractor began work in July 2009 and was expected to complete in April 2010. Unfortunately, his contract was terminated and by June 30, 2012 the Judiciary certified that they owed him Sh138,600,832.

“He was moving slowly and was not on site. He had also asked for revision of contract rates, which was found to be uneconomical. That is why his contract was stopped,” said Chief Magistrate Lucy Gitari.

The site was handed over when it was 65 per cent done and the Appeal Court had to be allocated space in the old building.

“When the Court of Appeal was brought to Kisumu, we had a challenge because we have an acute shortage of space. We thought of hiring premises for them to use before the completion of the building but we squeezed them in because the procedure might be long,” she said.

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