A decision has been reached to put up a modern court to serve the growing populace in Bungoma County and its environs, Senior Principal Magistrate Everlyn Olwande has said.
In a consultative meeting held on Wednesday at the Bungoma governor’s office, Lusaka agreed to donate land on which the construction will be undertaken with the objective of reducing the backlog of cases currently being experienced.
The modern court will now be constructed in the Musikoma area of Kanduyi Constituency.
The Judicial Service Commission delegation that was led by the secretary, Ms. Ann Hamadi, had indicated to the governor that the land on which the current court stands has no room for expansion.
At the same time, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) expressed a desire to have courts in all ten sub-counties in Bungoma for easy access to justice.
Olwande told journalists later that the JSC has constituted two committees that are touring the courts across the country to ensure effective and efficient administration of justice.
“This is the team that we have here in Bungoma. We started by having a candid meeting with area Governor Kenneth Lusaka before we proceeded for the law courts tour,” she said.
She revealed that the visit also aims at engaging with court users both internally and externally and identifying the challenges faced during the administration of justice.
“We have discovered during our engagement with officials at Bungoma law courts that the courtrooms sit on a small piece of land and cannot be expanded,” she noted, adding that because of the limited space, the commission cannot bring in more judicial officers.
“Even if we needed to bring in more judicial officers at Bungoma law courts, we cannot because there is no space for them to operate from,” she said.
The Magistrate lauded Governor Lusaka for accepting to support the construction of modern courts by promising to donate an acre of land for the same.
She said the facility will go a long way in helping in the swift dispensation of justice.
Olwande added that the commission will lobby for funds to facilitate the construction of the court.
During the visit, the commission also established that Bungoma has ten sub-counties with only four courts, thus posing a challenge in the discharge of duties.
“Bungoma has ten sub-counties, but out of the ten, only four have courts, with one (Tongaren) having a mobile court,” he said.
She noted that the area governor also committed to supporting the process of setting up courts in other sub-counties, with Kabuchai being a priority area.
“We are also exploring other methods of dispensation of justice, what we call alternative dispute resolution (ADR),” she said.
She said that what the judiciary is carrying out is court-annexed mediation and alternative justice systems.
Olwande said that historically, the judiciary has always had challenges with funding and always gets an unfair share of the national revenue.
She said that if the current push by the judiciary for the allocation of 3 per cent of the national budget goes through, it will help ease the challenges in the judicial system.
“If we could get a fixed allocation, most of these problems we face repeatedly could have been resolved,” she noted.
“Because of the budgetary cuts that were inflicted upon the judiciary, most of the infrastructure could not be completed in time,” she said, citing 18 incomplete court projects in Bungoma.
She said that the judiciary will fund the completion of the pending projects first before embarking on the construction of modern courts.
By Roseland Lumwamu