World Bank Board Approves Panel Recommendation Not to Investigate Kenya Transport Project
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on June 23, 2020, approved a Panel recommendation not to investigate the Transport Sector Support Project and its additional financing in Kenya.
The Panel in December 2018 received a Request for Inspection of the project – which is intended to increase the efficiency of road transport along the Northern Corridor and the Tanzania-Kenya-Sudan road corridor – from three members of the project-affected community in Webuye, Kenya. The complainants, who asked the Panel to keep their identities confidential, alleged harm from the construction of the Webuye interchange, which was part of the project. They raised concerns about the environment, community health and safety, livelihoods and labor conditions, as well as a lack of consultation and information disclosure.
On two previous occasions, in April and December 2019, the Board had approved Panel recommendations to defer a decision on whether to investigate the project. Both deferrals aimed to provide Bank management time to implement actions to respond to the Requesters’ concerns.
The Panel submitted its third and final eligibility report to the Board on June 9, 2020. In recommending not to investigate the project, the Panel noted the opposing views of World Bank management and the Requesters but cited management’s concerted effort to address the outstanding harm – and the temporary impact of the harm, which has since dissipated.
Specifically, the Panel noted the efforts made to value losses to small business owners and compensate them and to acquire land in close proximity to the Webuye interchange to build a market for mobile traders. The Panel was satisfied that a serious, although not an exact, attempt was made to estimate the income lost by the small businesses. The Panel noted that while the lack of verifiable records made the task difficult, this cannot be attributed to an omission by Bank management. The Panel also noted that due to the absence of willing sellers near the Webuye interchange, land that the mobile traders would consider appropriate could not be acquired. The Panel further noted the allocation of a plot 2.5 kilometers away is reasonable and provides an opportunity for the mobile traders to have a stall or a kiosk where they can ply their trade and generate income.