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High Court rejects bid by collapsed Sigiri Bridge engineer to have licence restored

By Everlyne Kwamboka | Nov 2nd 2018 | 3 min read

The Sigiri Bridge under construction in Busia. It caved in on June 26, 2017. [File, Standard]

The High Court has declined to lift the suspension of an engineer over the collapsed Sh992 million Sigiri Bridge in Budalang'i.

Engineer Oliver Khabure suspended on March 9 is said to have failed to provide adequate design and sufficient information to the contractor as required in a contract signed between the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) and China Overseas Construction Group known as COVEC on July 1, 2015.

“There is no allegation before me that the board acted ultra vires its statutory powers neither do I find grounds for so finding. There is no argument before me that it abused its discretion in adopting the procure it adopted neither do I find any,” said Judge John Mativo.

Khabure moved to court in May after the board suspended his licences for two years, saying the board exhibited high handedness and complete disregard for any evidence he had placed before it.

He also said the board’s action contravened the cardinal principal that no one should judge his own cause.

The engineer averred that his response and letter to the board on the scope of the contract that was written to the board by COVEC (the contractor of the project) was ignored.

The court was told that the engineer was a director of Interphase firm whose primary business was to carry out the business of an engineering consultancy company.

When the bridge collapsed last year, the then Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Principal Secretary, Eng John Mosonik directed the board and other agencies to investigate the incident.

An inquiry report by the board shows primary cause of the collapse was sequencing of the concreting of the bridge deck, which resulted in unbalanced forces that caused instability and failure of sections of the bridge.

The report further indicates that the construction of the bridge was done without the engineer’s input and that the final design drawings presented numerous inadequacies/ omissions on the bridge design and drawings.

A chargesheet on professional misconduct was forwarded to Khabure who was required to appear before the board’s disciplinary committee. It was later on amended and he defended himself.

The court was told that Interphase was sub-contracted by COVEC to provide design engineering services, the scope of which was project manager expected to coordinate all the consulting services and the consulting team.

The scope of services for the structural engineer was to clarify design standard, prepare basic and detailed design reports and drawings plus to carry out basic and detailed design of bridge works.

The board’s registrar, Engineer Nicholas Mulinge Musuni told the court that they discovered Khabure was operating Interphase firm without being registered by the board.

According to him, there was no clause in the contract between Interphase and COVEC that KeRRa was to supervise the project.

In the October 29 judgment, the court said there was no evidence to suggest that the disciplinary procedure adopted by the board was tainted with impropriety.

“In view of my analysis and determination of the issues discussed above, the conclusion becomes irresistible that the ex parte applicant has not demonstrated any grounds for this court to grant the Judicial Review orders sought,” read the judgment in part.

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