As part of an aggressive expansion of court facilities across the country, Chief Justice David Maraga on Monday laid the foundation stone for an ultra-modern High Court building in Kakamega.
The Sh388 million building will hold eight courtrooms and nine chambers, among other facilities.
This is the third High Court building launched by the Chief Justice this year. Two weeks ago he laid the foundation stones for the Kwale and Mombasa High Court buildings worth a total of Sh834 million.
CJ Maraga said the number of land cases continued to rise and, despite acceding to a request during a previous visit to start a Environment and Land Court in Kakamega, the work load is still too high.
He said Principal and Chief Magistrates courts have now been given jurisdiction to handle land matters with a value of up to Sh20 million to ease the pressure on the High Courts and reduce the case loads across the country.
The Kakamega building is being constructed with support from the World Bank’s Judicial Performance Improvement Project (JPIP).
During the function, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said he fully supported the independence of the Judiciary.
“For a country to have a functioning democracy and wananchi to enjoy the fruits of development, the rule of law must prevail,” he said.
"When it comes to honouring court summons and obeying court orders, we don't have a choice. We, as the County Government of Kakamega will always comply."
LSK members who attend the ceremony wore yellow ribbons in protest against disregard for court orders. Local LSK Kakamega branch President Calestous Shifwoka said it symbolized “that at LSK we stand for the rule of law. The pinnacle of democracy is respect, obedience and enforcement of the rule of law.”
He added, “Throwing into disrepute the authority of the Judiciary is completely unacceptable. As a lawyer, if the court is disobeyed, it leaves us and our clients helpless. Let the Judiciary stamp its authority.”
Kakamega High Court oversees magistrates’ courts in Vihiga, Butere, Mumias, Butali and Hamisi. The Judiciary is undertaking construction works in Butali, Vihiga and Hamisi courts.
At Vihiga, extensive rehabilitation and expansion of the courts is ongoing with the aim of creating room for a High Court station.