AG wants dispute over running of port between Mombasa County and KPA resolved out of court

The Attorney General wants a dispute between human rights activists and the State on the running of the Mombasa port to be resolved out of court.

Lawyer Nguguyo Wachira told a five-judge bench sitting in Mombasa on Wednesday that the court had no jurisdiction to hear a suit filed by three human rights activists to compel the State to surrender the port to Mombasa County.

The activists want the county government to manage the port on behalf of its residents.

Mr Wachira told justices Lydia Achode, Erick Ogola, Joel Ngugi, Antony Murima and Pauline Nyamweya not to entertain the suit as there was an alternative dispute resolution mechanism to address it.

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In a sworn affidavit, he argued that there was an inter-governmental resolution law that provided for national and county governments to have mutual relations and that should consult and co-operate to settle disputes between them.

Suit premature

“The suit is premature and the court ought to decline to hear it as it is provided for in the Constitution.”.

William Odhiambo Ramogi, Asha Mashaka Omar and Gerald Lewa Kiti went to court seeking orders to compel the Ministry of Transport to hand over port management to the court.

The three activists complained that the county had lost business opportunities since the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) started transporting containers from the port to Nairobi.

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Lawyer Cecil Miller for Kenya Railway Corporation concurred with the Attorney General that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. He is also urging the court to strike out the case.

“We support the Attorney General’s application,” said Mr Miller.

The activists’ lawyers, Caroline Oduor and Nyambura Kihoro, successfully applied to be allowed to amend their documents following the AG's application.

The activists have also sued the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

Muslims for Human Rights and Maina Kiai have been enjoined in the case as interested parties. They support the handing over of the port.

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Lawyer Paul Butti said the the county government had also filed a similar suit following the closure of Container Freight Stations, which have lost business after the SGR cargo service was launched.

The judges ordered the AG, KPA and Kenya Railway Corporation to file their submissions on why they were opposed to the hearing of the application by the activists within seven days.

The activists were required to respond in five days

Muslims for Human RightsAttorney GeneralStateMombasa portLawyer Nguguyo WachiraLydia AchodeCecil MillerKenya Railway CorporationStandard Gauge Railway