opinionBy Jean Bosco Twahirwa
Ever since the re-establishment of the East African Community and the recent entrance of Rwanda and Burundi into the community, new frontiers of trade and investment have opened and countries have seen citizens from member states crossing their borders and venturing into neighboring countries to trade and invest.
However, each country, member state to the East African Community has its usage practices not to mention its laws, which may facilitate or act as an impediment to such trade or investment; we shall not in this article tackle all such practices, usages or laws that may facilitate or hamper trade and investment but rather we will talk about the Rwandan traders and investor who find themselves in Kenya vis-à-vis, the Kenyans who trade and invest in Rwanda and how their respective Governments treat those who come to conduct their business operations in their countries. Kenyans are doing business smoothly in Rwanda and they have invested in hotels, consultancy, education and real estates.
In this article, we shall talk about the way the Kenya Government specifically; the Kenyan judiciary and how it has frustrated the efforts of SABA Company represented by Jean Bosco Twahirwa.
This company which is registered in Rwanda entered a sub-contact with Marshall Fowlers Engineering LTD, a company registered in Kenya. The Company had won a tender of Rehabilitating all tea factories in Rwanda and it sub-contracted a local company named SABA above, to execute some works of rehabilitation at Kitabi and Mata Tea Factories in the southern part of Rwanda.
SABA company executed all the works as agreed in the sub contract they signed with Marshall Fowlers Engineering LTD. Upon completion of the works Marshall Fowlers Engineering Ltd did not pay as per the agreement; SABA Company was forced to go to courts of law and it won right from the intermediate court to the Supreme Court.
The execution of the judgment however, has turned into a nightmare since Marshall Fowlers Engineering Limited, a company registered in Kenya, does not have an office or properties in Rwanda, and it is in this respect that the Kenyan Government has failed to reciprocate by giving good treatment to Rwandans who do business with Kenyans as Kenyans who do business in Rwanda are treated.
It is common knowledge to those who come to Rwanda either for touristic purposes, or trade and investment, they get good treatment ranging from good reception quick and qualitative services as well as protection of their lives and properties. On the contrary, when Rwandans go to Kenya for business or seek the intervention of their Government, for instance to have their disputes resolved, they encounter several hurdles such as unnecessary delays, bureaucratic red tape, and corruption of all types including but not limited to bribery.
In the case mentioned above, SABA Company Limited won against Marshall Fowlers Engineering Company Limited sums of money totaling Frw 149,179,568 the equivalent of Ksh 18,647,446, in the Rwandan Supreme Court, several attempts have been made to have the judgment executed but in vain.
The Rwandan minister for justice and attorney General wrote to his counter part in Kenya requesting him to help the Rwandans have their judgment executed. Diplomatic and legal channels have been used, since the year 2006.
The Kenyan Government however, has not executed its obligation. SABA Company employed the services of Ochieng, Onyango, Kibert and Ohaga Advocates, but despite the knowledge and wisdom of these learned gentlemen, the Kenyan corrupt system has failed them to date despite their efforts.
It is in this context that we request the Kenyan Government to reciprocate and give proper treatment to Rwandans who seek services from Kenyan Authorities as Kenyans who are in Rwanda are treated. A good turn deserves another, and its is in this spirit that regional economic integration and economic cooperation can make sense.
Jean Bosco Twahirwa is the Director of SABA Company.