, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 31 – The construction of a new High Court building in Voi, Taita Taveta County, is expected to be concluded by the end of the year.
Chief Justice David Maraga made the announcement Tuesday when he inspected the progress of construction during his second day of a three-day working tour of the Coast region expected to end on Wednesday.
The project, funded through the World Bank-supported Judicial Performance Improvement Project (JPIP) is projected to cost Sh347 million.
While in Voi, Justice Maraga also held a series of meetings which were attended by among others Law Society of Kenya Representative and a member of the Court Users Committee, Duncan Mwanyumba.
He also inspected service delivery at the Voi Law Courts.
During his first day of his visit on Monday, Justice Maraga laid a foundation stone for the construction of a High Court in Kwale County and later opened a Kadhis court building in Msambweni.
The Kadhis court was built through the support of Constituency Development Fund.
Justice Maraga will conclude his tour in Mombasa on Wednesday where he is set to launch the construction of a new building to house the High Court at the port city.
According to the State of the Judiciary and the Administration of Justice Report (SOJAR) 2016-2017, published in December 2017, the Judiciary is keen on enhancing access to justice by ensuring court facilities are established closer to citizens.
The establishment of a High Court station in each of the 47 counties as required by Section 12 (1) of the High Court Organisation and Administration Act was identified as a key target in the report released on December 15.
“We already have established 39 High Courts in 38 counties, meaning, only nine counties still remain without a High Court station,” Justice Maraga reported during the release of SOJAR 2016/17.
“Makueni, Nyahururu and Narok High Court stations were established during the reporting period,” he remarked.
The Judiciary is also seeking to establish a Magistrate’s Court in each of the 290 sub-counties (constituencies) nationwide according to the report.
The report also captured an increase in the number of judicial officers with the appointment of 28 new judges during the period under review.
“Whereas at the start of the transformation journey in 2011 Kenya had only 53 judges, today, the number stands at 159, with 28 having been appointed in the year under review,” Justice Maraga said.
The number of magistrates stood at 421 and that of Kadhis at 55 by the time the report was being published.
The judges, magistrates, and Kadhis, however, face an uphill task – that of expediting the clearance of 533,350 cases pending at various courts – with over 60,000 of those having been in pendency for between 5-10 years.
According to Maraga, these cases – 66,214 in number – will be concluded by the end of 2018.
“Sixty-six thousand, two hundred and fourteen cases are aged 5-10 years and we have embarked on an accelerated case clearance programme to conclude all cases that are older than five years by the end of 2018,” Maraga announced during the SOJAR 2016/17 launch.