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Board Approves Panel Recommendation to Defer Investigation Decision in Kenya Transport Case


The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on April 5, 2019, approved an Inspection Panel recommendation to defer for up to six months its decision on whether an investigation is warranted of the Transport Sector Support Project and its additional financing in Kenya.
The project’s development objectives include increasing the efficiency of road transport along the Northern Corridor and the Tanzania-Kenya-Sudan road corridor. 
The Panel received the Request for Inspection on December 17, 2018, from three members of the project-affected community in Webuye, Kenya. The complainants, who asked the Panel to keep their identities confidential, allege harm from the construction of the Webuye interchange, which is part of the Webuye-Kitale road works. They raise concerns about environmental impacts, health and safety issues, impacts on livelihoods and inadequate working conditions, as well as consultation and information disclosure. The Requesters allege that the Webuye interchange will have a long-term negative socioeconomic impact on vendors and businesses, and express particular concern about the children’s safe access getting to and from school after the completion of the interchange. They claim that the lack of safe crossing points near community schools is requiring children to take a 30-minute longer route using a busy road, putting them at heightened risk. 
The Panel registered the Request on January 17, 2019.
In its February 19, 2019, response, Bank management stated that most of the issues raised in the Request have been resolved, adding that much of the impact was temporary and linked to construction, which was nearing completion. Management further stated that following the submission of the Request, a Bank mission met with community members and the Requesters in January 2019 to discuss their concerns and how they could be addressed. Management included in its response an action plan prepared to address these concerns by March 31, 2019.
A Panel team visited Kenya March 5 to 9, 2019, and met with all stakeholders including government authorities and community members. The Panel noted that, in addition to a group of mobile traders, business owners were affected during construction of the interchange. Subsequently, Bank management informed the Panel that the terms of reference of a planned Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) audit, to be completed in four months, were expanded to include identification of mobile traders who were active in the area by the cutoff date of the original RAP and small business owners who were not appropriately compensated for business disruption, in an attempt to address adverse effects on their livelihoods. 
On March 22, 2019, the Panel issued a report to the Board noting the many advantages of the project for Kenya’s national economy as well as for the local economy in Webuye. The Panel recognized that the action plan, when fully implemented, will address most of the concerns raised by Requesters. During its visit, the Requesters had told the Panel they would welcome additional measures to address their concerns, especially as they relate to the restoration of livelihoods. They also expressed their support for a Panel decision to defer its investigation recommendation in order to await the implementation of such measures. As a result, the Panel informed the Board it was deferring its recommendation as to whether an investigation is warranted and would reassess the situation as further developments occur and inform the Board of its recommendation within six months.