SH3 BILLION HIGHWAY

Bungoma activists want judge out of road case

They accuse judge Stephen Riech of incompetence and impartiality

In Summary

• Petitioners argue the road should not be a county project but one for the national government.

• Judge Riech has failed to issue orders stopping the project until the case is determined.

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati during the luanch of construction of the highway
CONTESTED HIGHWAY: Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati during the luanch of construction of the highway
Image: JOHN NALIANYA

Two rights activists have demanded that a judge stops hearing a case against construction of the Musikoma-Kanduyi highway in Bungoma county.

The activists accuse judge  Stephen Riech of incompetence and impartiality.

They have written a letter dated May 7 to the judge and copied it to Chief Justice David Maraga, Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, the Judicial Service Commission and  the Law Society of Kenya.

 

John Khaoya  and Raphael Makokha say Riech is handling the case in a superficial and casual manner.

“The judge erred in law and fact when he failed  to grant orders to retrain the respondents from commenting on a matter pending in court which was subjudice,” reads the petition in part.

The activists further accuse the judge of failing to stop the Chinese contractor who is already on site from  continuing with the road works despite the matter being in court.

Bungoma Governor Wyclife Wangamati with the Chinese contractors
THE BUILDERS: Bungoma Governor Wyclife Wangamati with the Chinese contractors
Image: JOHN NALIANYA

Judge Riech has failed to stop an illegality perpetrated with impunity by Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, they say.

The duo claim Riech's failure to give orders to stop construction of the dual carriageway has allowed the Bungoma county government to break the law.

They ask that the judge issues orders stopping construction of the road  and orders the county government to stop commenting on the matter before court.

“Failure to issue orders, we demand that you recuse yourself from this case,” the petition reads.

 

The High Court in Bungoma gave the county government 14 days to enter their defense on the controversy surrounding the multibillion dual carriageway.

The road is projected to cost Sh3 billion. The petitioners argue the road should not be a county project but one for the national government.

They say no environmental impact assessment was done as required by law and there was no public participation before the awarding the project.

The petitioners further argue there was no clear compensation plan for landowners and no express budget for the road.

Judge Riech ordered that the county files its submissions and that the parties in  serve each other with all the papers for the petition .

The county government through lawyer Kuloba Wangila argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case .

The petitioners through lawyer Caleb Obwastiany argued that the High Court could hear any matters of similar nature.