KAMPALA – The Judiciary, one of the arms of government has been spending a third of its budget to facilitate rent arrears for Supreme Court and Court of Appeal yet this expenditure could have been avoided a couple of years ago by constructing permanent homes for the two Courts.
After his appointment as Secretary to the Judiciary/ Permanent Secretary (PS), Pius Bigirimana, hit the ground running when he found that the Judiciary already had plans but hadn’t procured a contractor. He started the process of procurement in September 2019.
Bigirimana, held discussions with Finance and mobilized funds which saw the project launched in December 2019. Excavation began in March 2020 and by May actual construction kicked off.
The launch was made by former Chief Justice Bart Katureebe who officiated at this historic ground-breaking ceremony for the long-awaited construction of the Supreme Court and Court of the Appeal buildings. The construction of the seven-storey twin appellate courts buildings with two basement floor parking for 226 vehicles, would be executed by Seyani Brothers within 24 months at a cost of 63.9 billion paid for by the Government of Uganda.
Justice Katureebe, described the occasion as memorable saying that the project was part of a larger plan which aims at ensuring that the Judiciary is transformed.
At the new law year 2021, President Yoweri Museveni officiated the function but also took time to inspect the construction of Appellate Courts and later praised Bigirimana as a hardworking officer. This was consistent with a description he made on Bigirimana sometime ago when he described him as, “a pumpkin seed which germinates anywhere even in the worst environment.”
One year and 4 months after construction kicked off, the structure has reached seventh floor (last floor) for Supreme Court and the 6th floor for Court of Appeal as the contractor prepares for the final stage of finishing. Speaking about the progress of the project, Mr Bigirimana told this website, “the new buildings are designed in such a way that they have judges’ chambers, court rooms but beyond that, they will have health facilities like gym, sauna and aerobics rooms.” The contractor is expected to deliver the project April next year.
The Commissioner of Engineering and Technical services in Judiciary, Eng. Dr Christipher Ebal said the schedule of construction is moving on well and Judiciary is satisfied with quality of Work. Ebal added that the twin-tower blocks will have a public lobby, play center for children, a nursery room where mothers can breastfeed their young babies and a provision for people with disabilities.
However, Ebal said there are challenges which need to be addressed as soon as possible to facilitate the completion of the skyscrapers.
“The project is expected to be completed in April next year, the next stage requires imported materials including sanitary equipment. So Judiciary calls upon URA to clear the materials very fast,” he said.
Asked what more plans does the PS have to accelerate efficiency in the Judiciary, Mr Bigirimana indicated that plans are underway to have a new batch of 13 judges of the High Court to reinforce the existing manpower, 2 Justices of Court of Appeal 1 judge of the Supreme Court to avoid case backlog.
“More 12 registrars will be recruited and more 40 Magistrates. We will also construct Court of Appeal buildings in Gulu and Mbarara.”
Bigirimana said he wishes to see a Corrupt free- Judiciary that adjudicates timely, independently, impartially and with professionalism. But also a judiciary that contributes to social economic transformation of Uganda.