SEMA, under the JLOS program, has been able to provide client feedback tools to 10 magistrate courts in Kampala where we interact with clients and identify how they feel about the services received at these courts.
Here, Citizens are encouraged to rate the services using the SEMA feedback tools by pressing the buttons on our feedback devices that register the kind of service delivered on a five-star rating system.
The selected courts In the central region include Makindye, Nakawa, Mbarara, Gulu, Jinja, Wakiso, High Court(criminal division), Nabweru, Buganda Road and Mukono Chief Magistrate Courts.
This quarter’s Trend report identified the different distribution patterns of clients that visited the courts, represented as percentages based on divisions across the available courts; for instance, we see the lands division register 18.6% of citizens visited, the Criminal Division had 35%, Administration section received 9.9% citizen visits, Family Court having 11.7% and Commercial Division registered 15.4% and other divisions registered only 9.3% visitors.
Citizens shared their appreciation of service delivery at Makindye and Jinja Court and were less pleased while receiving services at Mukono Court during the initial stages of data collection. These results were explained further by notes made on the waiting times that citizens experienced while at these courts, Makindye Magistrates court registered the least waiting times at an average of 30 minutes. Jinja Magistrates Court on the other hand registered the longest waiting times with a close followed by Mukono Magistrates Court.
In the discussion with the stakeholders, H/W Simon from Makindye Grade One Magistrate Court appreciated the trend report as a source of positive feedback on where to improve and where high scores are recorded.
Here are some of the issues you presented in your feedback.
Highlighted was the waiting times at courts as one of the most critical issues across all, this could however be attributed to the various internal factors within the courts. H/W Simon advocated for a change in this with a plan for better client service by scheduling clients to be worked on as they arrive.
The other issues to note were the misinformation gaps for the fee structure where there are cases of clients that assume all court services are free. Most services are free, yes, however, the courts intend to create a system where a public notice will be pinned at all courts to inform everyone of which services are subject to payment.
Clients also faced challenges with procedures after cases were adjourned. Sometimes witnesses wouldn’t show up to court and in many cases, the translators would then relay information to the clients about the adjourned dates without giving reasons as to why the case/ hearing has been adjourned, to these clients which would see them miss their hearings on said days.
In as much as the trend report showed that the Lands division of court registered high waiting times overall, it was established that the lands division handles highly sensitive and complex matters and as such makes for higher waiting times. This was offered as an explanation for the high waiting times at court.
H/W Joel Wegoye was very pleased to mention that from the start of the SEMA program, the officials at Jinja Magistrates court have begun scheduling fewer court sessions in a day in order to increase efficiency and reduce the number of complaints from clients about unattended cases.
Here are some of the challenges citizens highlighted and solutions generated at the court level from the discussions with the Judiciary.
Waiting time…………….. Reduce the Number of cases Handled in a day
Court fees……………….Create citizens awareness
Lack of guidance……….Translators need to focus on reasons for adjourning as well.
Mediation……………….. Hold a meeting with the mediators occasionally.
In his closing note, H/W Joel Wegoye remarked that SEMA has been more like the gatekeepers of the judiciary. The report shared offers an assessment of the different aspects of client care which helps the Judiciary to identify key improvement areas. The Judiciary members do agree that SEMA has provided a platform for which the Judicial sectors can check on their performance and check their level of service delivery to the citizens, allowing them to find key areas of improvement and create better service delivery to the citizens.
We hope that this will show you just how important your feedback is to these institutions and what it means to change service delivery at these station points.