State opts for out-court talks to resolve projects disputes

The Government has resolved to prioritise alternative dispute resolution platforms to untangle disputes around key development projects.

Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Transport counterpart James Macharia said negotiating with contractors and those displaced by way-leaves for priority projects will save on money and time spent on court processes.

The CSs were speaking in Mombasa after initiating talks between the Government and Project Affected Persons (PAPs) in the dualling of Mombasa-Mariakani highway that has been dogged by court cases over land compensation.

At least eight cases on the Ksh 8.5B Lot 1 Mombasa-Kwa Jomvu section that have been filed by PAPs unhappy with compensation of land compulsorily acquired for the road are currently at various of stages litigation.

The meeting was in line with the recommendation of a Cabinet committee coordinating the implementation of government projects (NDICCC) chaired by Dr. Matiangi.

“We want to encourage others who are in similar situations involving big projects that this is the way to go because we end up losing so much money and ultimately, when in these projects stall due to court process, we have to pay up a lot of money in compensation for lost time,” he said.

He said although it was within the rights of individuals and private firms unhappy with the compensation amounts to go to court, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms offered worked better for both litigants and plaintiffs as it also helped manage relationships between the parties.

The 12-KM road whose scheduled completion was October last year is 97 percent complete. It stalled at the 300-metre interchange section over disputes around the market value of the affected land.

The dispute has also affected the necessary relocation of essential services facilities such as water and sewer lines.

The stalemate has forced a freeze on the implementation o f the second phase of the project: the dualling of Ksh15.3B Kwa Jomvu-Mariakani section that was to be funded by the European Union.

Cs Macharia said the issues touching on land compensation involved several ministries and hence the need to assemble a multi-disciplinary team to seek viable solutions.

Several other court cases touching on major development projects funded by the government are also in court across the country.

In some cases, contractors have taken the government to court after it cancelled their contracts due to missed timelines or shoddy work.

The meeting was attended by Infrastructure PS Prof Paul Maringa, the National Land Commission CEO Kabale Tache, Kenya National National Highways Authority Director General Kungu Ndungu, Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata, the President’s Delivery Unit regional director Polycarp Onyango and representatives from the Attorney General’s office.

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