Consultant firms’ dispute over Lamu port deepens


Construction work at the Lamu port. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A local consultant in the design, review, supervision and construction of the first three berths of the Lamu Port wants a South Korean company which is the lead consultant to deposit Sh200 million in court being security for work it has done.

AIA Architects Ltd, formally Adventis-Inhouse Africa Ltd, wants Yooshin Engineering Corporation directed to deposit the money for work of design and supervision of the buildings and associated infrastructure of the Lamu Port which it has already performed as the local component of the tender award.

The two companies are involved in a dispute regarding a threat to terminate a sub-contract between them which has spilled to the High Court in Mombasa.

AIA Architects Ltd also wants Yooshin Engineering Corporation ordered to pay it Sh53 million being the balance of payment due (to AIA Architects) for the designs, disbursements for preparation of the designs, 16 percent VAT and 5 percent VAT up to the design stage as per the tender award.

In its application, AIA Architects wants an order of injunction against the defendant restraining it from conducting works of design, construction and supervision of buildings and associated infrastructure of the port or entering in any sub-consultancy agreement with any other entity.

AIA Architects is seeking the orders pending hearing and determination of the suit against the South Korean firm.

According to AIA Architects, Yooshin Engineering Corporation in total disregard to an order of the court have proceeded with the construction and ignored that it (AIA Architects) are valid consultants having won the tender award with them as the local component.

“The defendants have ignored the orders of this court which suspended the purported termination of the plaintiffs’ contract to design and supervise the construction of the buildings and associated infrastructure of the Lamu Port at Manda Bay,” the firm argues in its application.

AIA Architects argues that Yooshin Engineering Corporation has sidelined it and is holding meetings with contractors and other stakeholders without informing the firm.

The company further argues that Yooshin Engineering Corporation is proceeding with the construction based on its designs without consent in disregard of the court order.

“The defendants have committed plagiarism by unlawfully creating copies of the plaintiff’s designs and deleting the names and logo of the plaintiffs as the makers of the designs and inserting their own names and that of its employees.”

In the main suit, they are also seeking a declaration that they are entitled to undertake the works of the project design and construction supervision of the proposed three berths at Lamu Port Manda bay as per the proposal submitted to KPA.

Yooshin Engineering Corporation in its objection says the court lacks jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit and wants it (suit) referred to arbitration in accordance with the contract between parties.

Justice Patrick Otieno fixed the case for hearing on July 29.