Kenya: Washiali, 6 Others Charged With Negligence in Bridge Saga

28 January 2020

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali appeared in court in Mumias charged with negligence and irresponsibility in regard to a dangerous bridge along River Lusumu in Munangu village where children are alleged to swim through the water to attend school.

Mr Washiali is charged alongside six others including the Attorney-General's office in Kakamega, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Kakamega County Department of Transport, Public Works and Infrastructure, Director of National Disaster Management Authority, Director of Kakamega County disaster management and Malaha-Isongo Ward MCA .

The MP did not take plea as the court was told that other respondents were not ready as they had been served with a short notice.

Lawyer Gregory Ombito, who represented five of the accused, argued that his clients required time to put in place relevant documentations to present in court.

Torch Africa Civil Society, Barasa Kundu and Raphael Were sued the six arguing that they have failed to construct a safe bridge along River Lusumu, thus exposing the lives of children and residents to danger because they have to swim to cross the river.

KILLER BRIDGE

"The issue of the collapsed makeshift bridge on December 23, 2019 that killed two girls plus the exposure of children swimming to and from school is a matter of public interest," read the application marked as urgent.

Mr Ombito claimed that some of his clients were not formally served with papers and only learned about the matter from the media.

"Three of my clients have confirmed that they were not served with the court papers but learned of this matter while [it was] circulating on social media. They require adequate time to give a comprehensive report," he said.

The court indicated that it was concerned with the lives of the children who have to swim through the river to and from school.

"This court is pushing for the best interest of the children in line with Article 53 of the Constitution who are subjected to swim in order to access education. All respondents should be served by Thursday this week for commencement of the hearing of this case on February 4," said Senior Principal Magistrate Teresa Odera.

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