Civil Government News

Bunge La Mwananchi in court to stop construction of the JKIA-Westlands Expressway

A session of Bunge La Mwananchi at Nairobi’s Jeevanjee Gardens.

Bunge La Mwananchi -a pro-poor social movement in Kenya that has revolutionized grassroots politics in Kenya since the 1990’s- has filed an application before the A Nairobi High court challenging the already Gazetted construction of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to James Gichuru road expressway.

This application has been lodged at a peculiar time in that a few days ago on January 23, 2020, during the launch of the 2018/2019 State of the Judiciary and the Administration of Justice Annual Report, Kenya’s president Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta directly faulted the Judiciary for frustrating the executive.The president said that the Judiciary had erred by granting numerous court injunctions against governments policies, projects and initiatives that were meant to improve the country’s economy and the common mwananchi livelihood [opining that the country had lost out on opportunities to other countries due to court injunctions]

More so, the president alluded that these injunctions had been procured by individuals who were motivated by narrow interests rather than the public good. The president further gave a warning to the judiciary asserting that its independence was intended to safeguard the public interest rather than personal interests.

Nonetheless, despite the warning by the president on the judiciary, through its chairman Henry Shitanda, Bunge la Mwananchi are seeking to stop the implementation and construction of the JKIA-Westlands expressway until their case has been heard and determined.

The applicant is further seeking an injunction against the respondents -Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) and the Attorney General- that will stop them from undertaking and implementing the construction of the expressway for failure to conduct public participation and until they had conducted public participation as guided by Article 201 (a) of the Kenyan Constitution as well as the Public Finance Management Act.

Article 201 (a) of the constitution directs that openness and accountability that includes public participation is a principle of public finance management.

“The design, negotiations, structures and planning was done in secrecy. The decision to establish or formulate the aforesaid designs of the said expressway was as well done and formulated in secrecy in an opaque manner and without the involvement of the members of the public or any other person who is to be affected by the intended construction,” said the applicant.

The applicant further averred that there was no notice of public participation in a publication of nationwide circulation.  Mr. Shitanda further noted that the project contravened Article 35 of the constitution that regulated access to information stating that it was the right of every citizen to have access to the information held by the state and hence failure of KeNHA to disseminate information relating to the expressway to the members of the public and the project as it stood offended the constitutional values and principles of public participation.

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