Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has asked government to inject more money into the judiciary, saying it is a key branch of government. He said government has for long failed to provide a home for the Judiciary to have its own home while Parliament and Executive have had their own premises.
“I believe there is need for government to commit more funds in the construction of courtrooms. The truth is, most of the courtrooms are those built for us by development partners, especially DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency). So, that the government of Uganda has finally committed funds to this as a government project is recognition of the important role that the Judiciary as a branch of government has,” Justice Katureebe said.
Justice Katureebe was speaking at the ground-breaking of the Shs63.9 billion building to house the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal at the High Court in Kampala at the weekend.
Flanked by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine, and other high ranking Judicial officers, Justice Katureebe said the building will save government enormous money it has been spending on rent.
“How can we continue paying rent about Shs6 billion every year? And the Ministry of Finance sometimes delays in releasing the money and we pay penalties. It did not make sense. I remember telling the President that we must find money and build the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court,” he said.
The secretary to Judiciary, Mr Pius Bigirimana, said the two-year-long project would be financed with monies from the national treasury.
“The money to be used in the construction will be got from the national treasury,” Mr Bigirimana said.
The project is being undertaken by contractors Seyani Brothers and Company Uganda.
Mr Manish Siyani, the managing director for Seyani Brothers & Construction Uganda, said his company would execute the project within the contract period.
“It is my promise that by the end of the two years, this country will have their own Supreme Court as well as Court of Appeal. There is no doubt that at the end of two years we shall be done,” Mr Siyani said.
The journey to the ground-breaking started in 1999 when the idea to have a building to hold the two appellate courts was hatched. However, no progress was made until 2014 when a proposed design of the building was agreed upon.
However, there was a proposal to have the appellate courts housed on a building constructed under the stewardship of JLOS, a move the Chief Justice vehemently objected.
“When I came in, there was a proposal to build this [project] under the JLOS arrangement under the PPP. I said I cannot, as long as I am still Chief Justice, endorse a situation where appellate courts are built by JLOS, a private institution,” Justice Katureebe revealed.
It was until September 2, when initiative was resurrected with Judiciary running media adverts to invite bids.
The bids were received on September 30 and the process started. The two buildings will be erected at the High Court building, adjacent to Constitution square in Kampala.
The Shs63.9 billion buildings will have seven floors and two basement floors for parking of about 256 cars. It will also have two separate sets of restaurants for both the public and judicial officers. The buildings will have holding cells for inmates, a gym and library, among others.