The regional business community is urging Nairobi to expedite payment after a Kenyan court on Friday ordered the government to pay 16 Rwandan and Ugandan companies $63 million as compensation for trucks and goods lost during the 2007-2008 post-election chaos.
The ruling which was delivered by High Court judge MsaghaMbogholi is the single largest award to be made in the poll chaos cases.
Lilian Awinja, the Chief Executive Officer of the East African Business Council (EABC) told Sunday Times yesterday that she is urging the government of Kenya to “expedite payment of this compensation in order to help these businesses” recover from the major losses experienced with the post-election violence.
She added: “Further, the East African Legislative Assembly needs to come up with a legal framework that can help businesses established across the region to be able to seek legal redress not just from such losses but many other factors affecting businesses”.
Traders operating under the East African Freight Forwarders Association have pushed for compensation for the past 10 years, saying they lost trucks and goods along the Nairobi-Eldoret-Kampala highway.
Stephen Ruzibiza, the Chief Executive of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), said: “The decision is welcome as it’s a justice delivered”.
The local and regional business community has for the past 10 years tirelessly engaged the Kenyan government on the matter.
In June 2016, the EABC once more implored the Kenyan government to compensate the traders and transporters whose properties estimated to be worth $47m were destroyed following Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Previously, the traders sought $47,557,081 in compensation butthe $63 million award was arrived at after the initial claim was adjusted for inflation and interest.
When members of the EABC met with Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto at his residence at Karen in Nairobi and sought an update on the issue, Awinjatold Sunday Times that Ruto had “promised and directed the ministers to act” and there was optimism “it will work”.
“This [court ruling] is good news for businesses in East Africa considering that this has taken over 10 years to materialise. Although the Government of Kenya had shown willingness to compensate the business people from Rwanda and Uganda, the process has been slow and winding and lacking clarity”.
“We appreciate the Kenyan high court decision. It is also a strong message to the EAC Partner States that during elections they have to maintain peaceful elections and use all means to protect the property of the citizens of East Africa”.
According to the East African newspaper, the Kenyan government was blamed for failing to provide adequate security as required under the United Nations Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that compels states to guarantee security of goods transiting through their countries.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that they lost some business as a result. It is now almost 10 years from the time the course of action arose,” Mbogholi is quoted saying.
“It is hard to say how long those vehicles would have remained on the road doing the same business for the benefit of the plaintiffs”.