Going to a police station, to the courts or prisons or to land offices, or various governmental offices is a routine, common place and day to day humdrum activity of a citizen who most likely is a voter and tax payer.
Even after all the physic of national values and principles of good governance and national and county governments, procurement procedures and more monies being provided, the pathetic, inefficient and deplorable conditions which citizens have to endure in this day and age must be addressed. Lack of day to day maintenance of basic facilities and the wanton wastage of resources must be highlighted however petty or mundane or nationally painful.
Let us start at the much publicized and so called newly constructed Milimani Courts. Go to the men’s toilet. Piped water is scare, with plastic tanks dumped, toilets marked “out of order” for months, locks and handles broken and toilets vandalized. The situation in the ladies toilet is no different and not even a roll of toilet paper is provided. Go to Makadara and Kibera courts, flowing water in the pipes is a rare occurrence.
In most of the other up country court buildings, the drainage system has never been cleaned with vegetation growing in them. Aside from the state of the courts, public toilets have not been adequately provided for, drinking water in some parts of the country is unheard of. Broken windows and doors, unkempt offices littered with old files and even exhibits is the norm. Magistrates and prosecutors work in cramped up stores and cubicles. The sad reality is that nobody is prepared to address the weakness at all or for months.
Wastage? In all Milimani High Courts there are extremely expensive, high-tech recording machines and equipment giving a false impression that the courts are high-tech. The equipment is not used, useless, and now in a derelict state with TV screens in some courts having been broken by crazy accused! All a disgrace to the attractive Kenyan flag watching helplessly.
In the Milimani Law Society parking there is a graveyard of cars comprising 44 Mercedes Benz, 25 Peugeot 504 and 2 X-trail “GK” cars and 18 private cars totaling 89 forgotten vehicles.
The new Inspector General has vowed to reshape the police service. It behoves him to start his assignment by addressing the basics.
Go to any police station and you find hundreds of cars and vehicles held for one reason or other as exhibits for years. The new I.G should visit the Kilimani Police Station or the Parklands police station or any other station and take the simple step of getting rid of vehicles involved in fraud or accidents cases and photograph the same for evidential purposes. The judiciary recently embarked on clearing over fifteen thousand old cases, and in the same fashion court orders must be obtained where required to clear the police stations and court premises being used as storage yards.
The Inspector General of the National Police Service must address the conditions of the police cells in all police stations. It would help him to face the reality by making a few incognito visits to some upcountry police stations on Saturday morning to see the inhumane conditions in which prisoners are held. In the same breath, Magistrates and Judges must occasionally evidence, test, and endeavour to change the conditions of prisons and holding areas by having a walk!
Prisons? Whether you go to Kamiti or to the Industrial Area remand facility or any other prison the simple facility of a proper interview room for an advocate meeting his client is unavailable. The quibbling, sleeping and impotent Law Society cannot fight for the cause of the Advocates to get, in each prison in the country, a decent desk, chair, writing paper and perhaps a computer connection, drinking water and maybe a WI FI connection!
Water in prisons is a major issue even in places such as Kericho where it rains nearly every day. Those interested and in particular NGO’s perhaps must initiate water harvesting schemes in courts and prisons under the tag “water for justice”!
Attempts to upgrade some facilities in court buildings cannot go unnoticed and unacknowledged but the level of maintenance is desperately wanting. What excuse, for example, can there be for a whole hardwood bench missing in a Mombasa High Court or the un repaired ripped cushion in the same court in the full glare of Judges, Advocates and court officials?
For the engine of business to function, the Companies Registry is the most important. Many attempts to computerize have been made but without success. Searching a pre-2009 registered company presently is impossible and nightmarish. The story is the same in other registries and the dream of on line searches is a mirage.
The bottom line is that a broken chair, a lame desk, a leaking tap, the unusable toilet the unclogged drain, the vandalized manhole all must be attended to not by the unconcerned messenger or cleaner but by the highest officer of an institute.
Recently the National Youth Service initiated a clean-up scheme in Kibera which is continuing and bearing fruit. In similar fashion time to revamp the basic services in legal circles is long past.