Nyeri Water and Sewerage Company (Nyewasco) has been ordered to pay Starehe MP Charles Njagua’s (aka Jaguar) father, David Kanyi, Sh672,000 after he fell into a manhole owned by the corporation and broke his leg.
Nyeri Senior Resident Magistrate Phillip Mutua found the water company had neglected the two-foot deep manhole in Nyeri town and failed to erect warning signs.
The magistrate also found that the water company was in breach of statutory duty.
Through lawyer Muhoho Gichimu, Mr Kanyi told the court that the incident occurred in the evening of October 1, 2008 at 7.30pm behind Homage building.
Mr Kanyi was awarded general damages of Sh550,000, special damages of Sh97,885 and Sh25,000 for medical expenses.
The lawyer narrated to court that the old man accidentally fell into the uncovered manhole owned by the water company and as a result sustained severe injuries.
Mr Kanyi was taken to Mathari Hospital by a passerby, Gerishon Chege Nderitu, was later transferred to Nyeri General Hospital where he was admitted for two weeks.
He was put on plastic pans for a year.
He was examined by Doctor Muchai Mbugua who testified in court saying Mr Kanyi had fractured his right leg, ankle joint, dislocation and wound in the interior side of the ankles.
The doctor said the plaintiff complained of pain while walking on uneven ground.
He said x-rays revealed a fracture and dislocation at the ankle on the right leg and was walking on crutches.
The fracture was fixed with screws and plaster applied to enable him walk on his own legs.
Mr Kanyi sued the water company for breach of statutory duty and negligence.
The lawyer explained that the company failed to cover the manhole or put up signs, a move he said exposed passersby to risk.
During hearing of the case, the court moved to the scene and found that the manhole was yet to be covered and there was a water meter in it.
The magistrate also noted that the manhole was at the edge of the road, approximately two and a half metres from the road, and next to a four-feet deep trench.
In defence, the company denied the claims of negligence and breach of the statutory duty explaining that Mr Kanyi was solely accountable and that the accident was caused by his personal irresponsibility.
Through GK Kibira Advocates, Nyewasco said Mr Kanyi was walking carelessly, without attention and been unconscious of his own safety and encroached on the manhole.
The former company’s coordinator of manhole maintenance, Njuguna Mungai, told the court that Mr Kanyi made a verbal report to the company in March, 2010 and was advised to put it in writing.
Mr Mungai said he was aware of the said uncovered manhole, but stated that there were incidents where the covers were vandalised by scrap metal dealers.
While delivering the judgment, the court noted that there was corroborating evidence that the water entity had duty to maintain the manholes and put up warning signs.
“A person who sustains injuries as a result of a breach of statutory duty can sue for damages,” said Magistrate Mutua.
The court stated that Nyewasco had a duty to maintain the manholes but on the particular case, it was left open and without a warning.