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Economy

Contractor wants PSs jailed over Sh322m court award

A construction firm associated with former Mathira MP Ephraim Maina wants the Finance and Transport principal secretaries jailed for failing to pay a Sh545 million court award following a botched road contract.

Kirinyaga Construction claims that demands for payment from the Finance and Transport ministries are yet to elicit a response from either office. It now wants their principal secretaries committed to civil jail for contempt of court.

Neither Kamau Thugge (Finance) nor Irungu Nyakera (Transport) have responded to the suit. Justice George Odunga yesterday granted the two principal secretaries 21 days to file their responses.

Kirinyaga Construction in 2014 reached an out- of- court settlement with the two ministries, which was to see the road contractor paid Sh322 million instead of the Sh1.5 billion it initially demanded. The amount has since shot up to Sh545 million due to accrued interest.

“By October 31, 2016 the decree remained unsatisfied, prompting Kirinyaga Construction to serve upon the principal secretaries a copy of the decree together with a notice of penal consequences, but there is still no compliance. The refusal to comply with a court order reached by consent of parties wherein they were well represented smacks of ill will and impunity and it is important that this court stamps its authority,” the firm says.

Justice Odunga has ordered all parties to appear before him on December 7 for further directions.

Kirinyaga Construction sued the government in 2014 for refusing to pay its contract claims of Sh119 million and VAT and withholding tax of Sh202 million arising from a tender for rehabilitation of the Murang’a-Sagana-Karatina-Marua roads. The firm was awarded the contract in 2002.

The firm initially successfully sued for the refunds in 2009, but the two ministries agreed to pay it Sh322 million.

Failure to pay the sum saw Kirinyaga Construction sue Attorney- General Githu Muigai in 2014 on behalf of the two ministries.

Prof Muigai failed to respond to the suit and Justice Odunga ruled in favour of Kirinyaga Construction. The judge, however, declined to condemn the then Finance and Transport principal secretaries to civil jail as Kirinyaga Construction had requested.

The judge argued that finding the principal secretaries in contempt of court at that time would have been premature as he had just ordered them to release the Sh322 million to Kirinyaga Construction.

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