High Court awards Rwandese firms Sh6.3b for poll chaos losses

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STANDARD MEDIA – The High Court has slapped the Government with Sh6.3 billion bill for goods of foreign firms that were destroyed in the 2007/08 post-election violence.

In the largest award for post-election violence cases, Justice Mbogholi Msagha ordered the Government to pay 16 Ugandan and Rwandan firms for the losses they incurred.

The judge noted that the Government had reached out to the affected traders to settle the case out of court in 2010 but later turned around and denied liability.

The case was filed by Kampala City Traders Association, Katraco Uganda, Intraspeed Logistics and Mugenga Holdings claiming that their 22 trucks which were on transit to Nairobi were destroyed during the chaos.

In addition, Dooba Enterprises, Willex Uganda, Sebco Uganda, KPI Limited, Bunyonyi Safaris, Seven Hills Impex, Uganda Agricultural Tools, Board City, Bidco Uganda and business man Tom Mgenga, who owns Mugenga Holdings also laid claim against the Kenyan Government for each truck that was destroyed.

Escape liability

The judge ruled that 15 firms will share Sh4.7 billion while Mr Mgenga who filed a separate suit will get Sh1.62 billion as compensation.

Msagha said that during the hearing, State lawyers admitted the claims laid by the firms but asked the court to dismiss the suit.

According to the judge, the Attorney General wrote to the then Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President notifying him that it was impossible to escape liability as two commissions found that the police failed to protect businesses during the 2007/08 polls chaos.

“The plaintiffs in this suit feature prominently in that document which has not been denied by the defendants even during the hearing. There is evidence on record that an attempt was made to settle the claim out of court,” the judge ruled.

In the suit where Inspector General of Police and the AG were named as respondents, the court heard that most of the trucks were set on fire while the goods were vandalised.

This mostly happened on the Nakuru-Eldoret-Malaba and Nakuru-Busia highways.

“The police failed to provide security arrangements to protect the plaintiffs’ lives and property. As a result of violence, the plaintiffs lost trucks and goods by way of arson and theft,” the firms claimed.

Intraspeed managing director John Rusagara argued that he informed the police of a plot to protect the trucks but no action was taken.

The judge also ordered that each trader will be compensated for loss of business for each truck which will be calculated for a period of six years.

He said the loss will be based on 15 per cent of the value of each truck.

The judge ordered that the parties should agree on the total amount to be compensated and table a report.

The amount awarded by the judge will attract interest until it is paid in full.

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