State yet to form teams to build highway loos

Trucks along Mombasa road. The government is yet to form teams to build toilets along highways. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The government is yet to form a committee to ensure that all highways have toilets for travellers.

Adrian Kamotho, the lawyer who had sued the government for lack of toilets told The Standard that the Ministry of Transport is yet to effect the court orders.

"The former minister left but there is no committee in place," said Kamotho.

The High Court in 2020 ordered the government to constitute a committee to come up with a roads policy that will ensure travelers have toilets on the roadsides countrywide.

But there has been a back and forth between the ministry and county governments with both accusing each other of failing to comply with the court orders issued by Justice Kossy Bor.

Following the failure to implement the judgment, a second judge, Oguttu Mboya ordered the then Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to report to court by October this year about the formulation of guidelines and the efforts being made to have a clean and healthy environment along Kenya's road network.

"I now direct that the matter shall be mentioned within the next six months and in particular on October 3, 2022, to confirm to court the extent of progress that shall have been achieved as pertains to the constructions of the toilets and reasonable sanitation facilities on the Kenyan Road Network towards the realisation of the Right to Clean and Healthy Environment along the Kenyan Road Network," said Justice Mboya.

Justice Mboya issued the orders in an application filed by Kamotho to jail the CS, governors, and the chief executives of Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KURA).

Kamotho said they had all been served with the court orders but failed to comply.

In his reply, Transport ministry Principal Secretary Paul Maringa told the court that the application was merely meant to embarrass him as he was not a party to the case. At the same time, he stated that it was for the governors to implement the judgment. He also told the court that there were guidelines formulated sometime in 2014 and have been circulated to various stakeholders for their input.

On January 6, 2020 Justice Kossy Bor directed the State to come up with a policy that would guarantee every person using Kenya's road network reasonable access to decent toilets and sanitation facilities.

Justice Bor concurred with Kamotho that there was a need to have toilets on the roadsides, as most Kenyans would stop their vehicles and go into thickets to relieve themselves.

The Environment Court judge said that the government had the mandate to ensure Kenyans enjoyed their right to health and at the same time protected the environment from activities that were likely to harm it.

"The Constitution obligates the State to eliminate things that are likely to endanger the environment. Such processes include road users relieving themselves in bushes and open spaces along the road," ruled Justice Bor.

"The State needs to provide clean and decent toilets for road users to relieve themselves while on their journeys to give effect to the right to a clean and healthy environment."

She said that roads authorities ought to construct pedestrian walkways, cyclist lanes and procure services or make arrangements with other entities like counties to provide services to road users.

She said Kenha and Kura could seal a deal with counties to construct the amenities.