By Andrew Irumba
Mombasa: Kenya’s High Court commercial division in Mombasa has ordered the Kenyan Revenue Authority to pay city business woman Deborah Kigongo over Shs150m in damages for goods that KRA illegally auctioned in 2012.
The revenue authority will also pay costs of the case and interest dating from 2012, which haven’t been calculated yet. Kigongo, through her company Kaaya Investments Uganda Ltd, was importing spare parts for road construction trucks from Singapore in 2012 when they were sold at Mombasa without her consent, by KRA. Kigongo, through her company Kaaya Investments Uganda Ltd, was importing spare parts for road construction trucks from Singapore in 2012 when they were sold at Mombasa.
The goods were to be supplied to Uganda National Roads Authority-(UNRA) with ground-engaging road construction equipment, which included cutting edges and other accessories. However, Kigongo told court that when her goods arrived in three 20-foot containers worth Shs448m, one of the containers went missing. On asking the Kenya Ports Authority and KRA, she was told that they had been auctioned due to delays to collect them. On May 29, 2019, Justice P.J. Otieno of commercial division of High Court of Kenya faulted KRA for not taking care of the goods and notifying the owner before selling them.
“I do therefore find that the sale by public auction conducted on 25/6/2012 was not validly conducted and that having been so invalid it did occasion to the plaintiff (Kigongo) an illegitimate and unlawful deprivation of property from which the plaintiff is entitled to be compensated,” the judge declared. Kigongo said that “I’m so happy the truth has come out.” She said that when one of the containers was stolen, all the others could not be delivered to UNRA because they could not be used. The judge also blamed KRA for publishing the sale of goods in the Kenyan Gazette instead of the East African gazette that can be accessed by the partner states. Meanwhile, the ruling came as a sigh of relief from the court battle in Uganda. Despite the fact that UNRA assisted her with lawyers to help in the Mombasa case, UNRA had sued Kigongo at the Uganda Commercial Court for failing to deliver the goods they expected from her. In court, UNRA wanted evidence that indeed goods were stolen, but also wanted to know the effort she is putting to recover them. Kigongo’s case was a representation of what a lot of Ugandan traders go through when their goods dock in Mombasa.