NAIROBI COUNTY LICKS DUST AFTER BARRICADING KEMRI HEADQUARTERS.

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Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) where Nairobi County Government has been slapped with a court order barring its servants from barricading KEMRI headquarters over alleged illegal tax arrears.
BY THOMAS KARIUKI.

Nairobi County has been slapped with a court order barring its servants from barricading KEMRI headquarters over alleged illegal tax arrears.

The headquarters is where over two billion biological samples are stored.

In a bid to compel the Kenya Medical Research Institute to settle purported rates arrears, Nairobi County forcefully took over and barricaded Kemri’s main complex and head office at Mbagathi Way, on May 19 and placed a notice that they had taken over the management of institute’s pressings.

Judge Eric Ogola ruled that Nairobi County with its servants and agents should keep off the premises pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

He said, “A prohibitory injunction be issued restraining the defendants itself, its servants, agents and/or associates from accessing and/or barricading and impeding movement in and out of the plaintiff premises and facilities in Nairobi pending the hearing and determination of the application.”

Kemri Lawyer Emmanuel Wetangula told the court that the blockade by the county to forcefully take over his clients premises is unlawful and puts the research work done at the facility at great risk and jeopardy.

The action by Nairobi County comes barely months after a terrorist alert was issued touching on the workings of the facility. It was reported that terror suspects among them medical interns who have already been apprehended planned to launch a biological attack in the country.

Kemri said it houses sensitive research facilities, sensitive information, human research samples and materials including highly pathogenic organisms with the potential of causing great harm to the public if they escaped or fell in the wrong hands and are capable of being used for bio-terrorism acts against Kenyans.

They said it was for that reason that any unauthorized person is prohibited to access the premises.

On the other hand, Nairobi County is demanding to collect rates allegedly due to it in the sum of Sh2.5million and a dispute debt of Sh120 million allegedly arising from an agreement between the parties.

Kemri acknowledges the Sh120 million dispute that arose from an incident where Nairobi County engaged them to test food handlers in the County. However, a disagreement arose over the implementation of the agreement and thus the plan was never actualized.

They holds that facilities exclusively used for research purposes and advancement of public health are exempt from valuation for any rates under the Valuation for Rating Act, Cap 266 Laws of Kenya.

The medical institute avows that it does not owe the county any rates nor has it been informed of any change of status on its properties that are exempt from valuation for rates.

Proceedings resume.

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