The Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHa) has appealed a court ruling directing it to pay lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi over Sh750,000 for damages to his high-end car, a Bentley Bentyaga, while driving on a major highway.
A Kajiado court found KenHa negligent for failing to put up safety measures such as signs, to warn motorists of road repairs.
But in a notice to the High Court, the agency said it is dissatisfied with the judgment and intends to appeal.
KenHA also said it was dissatisfied with the damages of Sh750,311 awarded to Mr Abdullahi. The agency maintained that Mr Abdullahi did not prove that he suffered damages to the required standards.
The outspoken lawyer allegedly failed to report the incident to the police along the Nairobi-Namanga highway, or their offices or obtain a police OB number.
In a precedent-setting decision, trial magistrate Edwin Mulochi said KenHa was guilty of negligence and ordered it to compensate for the damages.
“In view of the foregoing, I conclude 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.
A Bentley costs between Sh30 million and Sh51 million, according to the Kenya Revenue Authority.
The first batch of Bentleys arrived in Kenya in 2017 and the local dealer sold five units in 2018 and three last year.
In his suit, Mr Abdullahi claimed the workers failed to put up appropriate signs warning motorists of the danger.
A shrapnel hit the windscreen, shattering it as he drove back to Nairobi from Arusha on August 25, 2018.
Mr Fredrick Oyuga, an assistant director of KenHa said the accident could have occurred in Tanzania or 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.
But the court dismissed KenHa’s defence stating that the agency should have erected signs along the road to warn road users of the ongoing roadworks or 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 because it is not an accident as per Section 73 of the Traffic Act, for him to inform the police.
The court decision is likely to pile pressure on road agencies to improve the state of infrastructure and ensure safety measures such as the erection of appropriate warning signs.
In countries such as Britain, local authorities and roads agency pay hefty amounts each year in compensation for car damages due to bad roads.