Kampala, Uganda | URN | Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has ordered for the immediate closure of the Supreme Court building in Kololo over safety concerns, until further notice.
In a memo dated May 31, 2022, the Chief Justice says that following the fire that gutted part of his chambers, there have been water leakages leading to flooding in the Chambers of the Justices which has reportedly damaged furniture, books, and other court properties.
“These incidents have made it unsafe to continue in occupation of the said premises without a proper assessment of the damage and effecting appropriate rectification. The landlord has been duly notified to assess and rectify the defects,” reads the memo in part.
It adds that, “for these reasons the top management of the Judiciary has decided and I hereby direct that the Supreme Court be closed as the premises undergo renovations and rectification of the defects.”
In April, a fire broke out in the Chief Justice’s chambers on the third floor. According to sources, the fire broke out when a woman opened the door next to the Chief Justice’s chambers and switched on the light, which triggered a blast.
Owiny-Dollo further adds that in the meantime, the Judicial Officers who have been occupying the building will be working from home until further notice.
“However the Court Registry and the ECCMIS (Electronic Court Case Management Information System) Centre will remain open to handle the usual business of the court,” adds the memo.
According to the Chief Justice, as the court remains closed, the administrator shall ensure that all court halls and chambers remain closed, security guards remain on duty and that judgment may be delivered using virtual electronic means.
He adds that one Justice will remain on duty to attend to urgent matters on a daily basis.
That Justice on duty will be operating from the High Court building at the Judiciary headquarters in Kampala, according to Owiny-Dollo.
“The Chief Justice shall notify their Lordships of the date when full-court operations shall resume upon issuance of a certificate by the responsible authorities that the premises are safe for occupation,” adds the two-page circular copied to the judiciary top management officials, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Uganda Law Society among others.
The Judiciary Public Relations Officer Jameson Karemani confirmed the closure of the Supreme Court.
The closure of the Supreme Court rented premises comes barely a month when the Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary Pius Bigirimana told this publication that the construction of the Judiciary’s own Supreme Court and Court of Appeal buildings is almost complete and only left with painting and putting in glasses.
The 63 billion shillings twin tower is located near the City Square in Kampala and is undergoing undercoat painting and tiling.
Upon completion, Mr. Bigirimana said that the judiciary will save 9.7 billion shillings it has been spending annually on renting the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal buildings.