, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 30 – On Tuesday the Judiciary launched a Sh10.5 billion Judicial Performance Improvement Project that will see it among other things construct 10 High Courts.
The six-year project is financed by the World Bank and is the first of its kind on the African continent where hitherto the lender has not bankrolled a project exclusively targeted at judicial reform.
The allocation of 40 percent of these funds to the addition of High Courts and the rehabilitation of 30 existing courts is in a bid to bring justice closer to the Kenyan people, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said.
“The necessity of minimising the average distance to court cannot wait. Kenyans demand service now, not when funds become available. These are some of the reasons we have entered into a funding partnership with the World Bank to support the Judiciary Performance Improvement Project.”
Project Director Kakai Kissinger who is also the Judiciary’s Deputy Chief Registrar said the aim is to have a High Court in each of the 47 counties, “Currently, we have 20 High Courts in Kenya, three others are under construction, therefore bringing the statutory shortfall to 24 High Courts.”
“County Governors are in the process of identifying suitable land for court constructions, and in particular Tana River, Tharaka Nithi, Wajir, Bomet, Pokot, Vihiga, Samburu, Laikipia, Nyandarua and Turkana counties have already identified and allocated land for this purpose,” he said.
The other reasons behind the Judiciary’s funding partnership with the World Bank are the digitisation of court records, processes and the establishment of a research and development centre in line with the Judiciary’s 2012-2016. Transformation Framework.
The Judiciary’s four-year strategic plan is also financed by a United Nations Development Programme managed basket fund to which the Netherlands contributed Sh187 million last month.
While welcoming the funding agreement the Judiciary has entered into with the World Bank, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich called on the project managers to ensure 100 percent of the funds are utilised as outlined.
“I want to encourage that all conditions for the utilisation of the loan proceeds which are specified in the financing agreement be observed to avoid incurring expenditure not provided for in the agreement because that continues to be a challenge in our country where we are now doing about 50 percent absorption. You have the kitty but ensure that you work,” he said.
In response, Mutunga assured his fellow Kenyans that he will not tolerate the misappropriation of the funds which will be paid back at an annual interest rate of three percent on the reducing balance starting 2019.
“The Judicial Service Commission and myself as Chief Justice will take a very hard stand on any officer who is found to be engaged in imprudent and corrupt activities. We owe it to the prestige of this country and also for our own institutional and professional pride to manage public resources without being corrupt,” he concluded.