NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – It has now emerged that the ‘ultra-modern’ Milimani Law Courts building unveiled by President Mwai Kibaki earlier this year is yet another white elephant that cost the taxpayer a staggering Sh1 billion.
Barely 10 months after it was commissioned, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has sounded alarm over the safety of judicial staff and Kenyans using the building whose ceiling has caved-in, with water leaking all over.
Door handles in almost all floors have broken down, lifts including the VIP ones stopped working and the water leakages keep on triggering electric faults.
Mutunga sums all this as “administrative corruption and incompetence” and he had no kind words for professionals involved in the work.
“I want to state that all the professionals involved in this project must take responsibility. Professional bodies must take disciplinary action against its members who have been part of this mess,” the CJ told journalists when he took them on a tour of the poorly refurbished building.
“Indeed to refer to this building as ultra-modern is to insult both the English language and the intelligence of Kenyans,” the CJ said adding “It is unbelievable that a building that cost the tax payer over Sh1 billion after variation from the original cost of Sh600million is in this sorry state of disrepair.”
To stress his point, Mutunga told reporters judges and staff in the building cannot access the Internet because vital facilities were not installed.
Worried over the quality of construction work, particularly in the courts in Nairobi and other parts of the country, Justice Mutunga announced that he has suspended all the works to pave way for a proper audit.
“I have directed that this building be subjected to an immediate structural audit. I ask the Ministry of Public Works who supervised the contractors to immediately review and reinforce the structures of this building to ensure that it is safe for public use,” Mutunga said of the damaged ceilings and cracks at the ‘ultra modern building’ that is the Milimani Law courts.
“We intended to construct an ultra-modern building however what we have ended up with is a poster project of corruption and failure of engineering, architectural and other professions. The quality of this work demeans the advances made in the architectural and engineering professions through this iconic symbol of incompetence and greed,” the CJ said.
Mutunga said; “it was just by sheer luck that in two of the occasions ceilings caved in, the courts were not in session and nobody was hurt.”
“On the third occasion, a police officer was hurt,” he said and warned a disaster would happen unless urgent measures are taken.
“The digital locks which were installed in some of the sensitive access areas have never worked, it is unimaginable but true that the Judiciary does not have a single complete construction file for this building,” he said.
Mutunga told journalists that even construction records of other Judiciary buildings outside Nairobi were not in their possession.
“This speaks of criminal negligence and serious dereliction of duty,” he regretted.