Attorney-General Githu Muigai wants the High Court to dismiss a Sh4.2 billion ($47.5 million) claim by 13 Ugandan and Rwandese firms for losses they suffered in the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Prof Muigai says in court papers that the government notified vehicle operators of the dangerous state of Kenyan highways leading to both the Busia and Malaba borders, in addition to providing security convoys to motorists plying the affected routes.
The firms, however, say their trucks were looted and destroyed by the demonstrators while ferrying goods.
The transporters sued the government in 2009 for negligence, demanding Sh4.2 billion compensation for special damages. They have also asked for general damages, an amount they say should be calculated at the court’s discretion.
“The government issued advance warnings to operators of motor vehicles operating along the Nakuru-Eldoret-Busia-Malaba highway and provided armed security. If the plaintiffs suffered economic loss, all of which is denied, it was not occasioned by any negligence of the government,” says the AG.
The 13 firms and three businessmen claim that the government, through the police, failed to accord their trucks adequate security, which led to the loss of their property in the chaos. They have also faulted the government for opening the highway for use in clash-prone areas.
They claim they lost $22.9 million (Sh2.03 billion) along with the trucks and goods that were being transported across the country.
But Prof Muigai says the government deployed both police officers and Kenya Defence Forces personnel to maintain law and order on the affected routes. He adds that the chaos was a spur of the moment that could not have been foreseen by the State.
“The post-election clashes between December 2007 and February 2008 were spontaneous and as such any damage to the plaintiffs, could not reasonably be foreseen. The government in discharge of its duty deployed extra police officers and Kenya Army officers to the affected routes,” he added.
Intraspeed Logistics, Kampala City Traders Association, KATRACO Uganda and Mugenga Holdings were the owners of the 22 heavy duty trucks destroyed in the chaos.
They have been joined by Dooba Enterprises, Willex Uganda, SEBCO Uganda, KPI Limited, Bunyonyi Safaris, Seven Hills Impex, Uganda Agricultural Tools, Board City, Bidco Uganda and businessmen Suleiman Bateganya, David Musana and Arthur Turyahikayo.
The attacks occurred on various dates between December 2007 and February 2008 while the vehicles were in transit to Uganda and Rwanda.
The firms claim that they gave information to the police, which was supplemented by reports given by members of the public and intelligence reports regarding security on the highways but the information did not elicit any response.
“The Kenyan government failed to keep any proper lookout on the plaintiffs’ goods, trucks and personnel while on transit through Kenyan territory,” the firms added.
Justice Mbogoli Msagha will hear the matter in July. The case was filed in September 2009, but is yet to reach the full-hearing stage.