Friday August 7, 2020
A court has ordered the national highways agency to pay lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi Sh750,311 for damages to his high-end car, a Bentley Bentyaga, while driving on a key road under repair.A Bentley costs between Sh30 million and Sh51 million, according to the Kenya Revenue Authority.
The judgement is deemed important because it puts accountability for damage suffered by road users due to shoddy works on the public agencies concerned.
Mr Abdullahi, a Senior Counsel, had sued the Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHa) for negligence after the windscreen of his luxury car was damaged by a stone at section of the Nairobi-Namanga highway.
The first batch of Bentleys arrived in Kenya in 2017 and it sold five units in 2018 and three last year.
Only one unit of the luxury car was sold in the first half in a luxury car market dominated by Mercedes Benz and BMW.
In his suit, Mr Abdullahi argued that the workers failed to put up appropriate signs warning motorists of danger on the stretch of the highway that was being re-carpeted. A shrapnel hit the windscreen of the lawyer’s car shattering it as he drove back to Nairobi from Arusha on August 25, 2018.
KenHa, however, denied liability for the damage on the vehicle. Fredrick Oyuga, an assistant director of the road agency, further said Mr Abdullahi failed to report the damage of his car to the police or ant any of its offices.
He said the accident could have occurred in Tanzania and that the lawyer may have been speeding at the time, adding that the windscreen is unlikely to have been damaged by a stone.
Further, Mr Oyuga argued that there was no assessment from an independent person to show the extent of the damage.
Senior Magistrate Edwin Mulochi, however, found KenHa guilty of negligence and ordered that it compensate Mr Abdullahi for the damages.
“In view of the foregoing, I come to the conclusion that the defendant owes the plaintiff and other road users a duty of care. The duty cannot be shifted to a third party,” the magistrate said.
Mr Mulochi said the agency should have erected signs along the road to warn road users of the ongoing roadworks, or in the alternative, divert the vehicles.
“Having failed to either erect signs along the road cautioning users or divert traffic, the defendant clearly breached its duty of care to the plaintiff,” he said.
The magistrate said there was no requirement to report the incident to police because it is not an accident as per section 73 of the Traffic Act.
The court decision is likely to pile pressure on road agencies to improve the state of infrastructure and ensure safety measures.
In countries such as Britain, local authorities and road agency pay hefty amounts each year in compensation for damage to cars due to bad roads.