Cargo truck owners petition court to block Nassir's Sh700 levy in port

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir before the Senate Investments and Special Funds committee (CPIC) at KICC, Nairobi. February 26th,2024 [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

Mombasa County's quest to collect parking fees from trucks picking up or dropping cargo inside the port and other costumed areas in the city hangs in the balance after truck owners moved to court to challenge the proposals.

On Wednesday, High Court Judge Olga Sewe directed the parties to file their submissions.

Justice Sewe, who heard an application by the Road Haulers Association of Kenya (RHAK), certified the matter urgent and ordered all parties to file their documents before Monday.

"Upon considering the application together with supporting affidavit and the documents annexed thereto, it is ordered that the said application be and is hereby certified urgent," said the judge.

Justice Sewe ordered the parties to submit written submission so that she can give her ruling on whether to stay the implementation until next Friday.

The truck owners have sued Kenya Ports Authority, Mombasa County, and the Attorney General to overturn the new levy of Sh700 on commercial vehicles entering Mombasa Port and its extensions.

RHAK's lawyer Derrick Odhiambo said among the documents he had filed included a magistrate's order stopping the collection.

He said his client has over 700 members owning trucks below 10 tonnes and drivers who transport the cargo from the port to various sheds and container freight stations in the town.

Before KPA and Mombasa struck a deal, the county could not collect parking fees for over 2500 trucks that collected cargo from the port and other costumed facilities like the dry ports.

Yesterday, Odhiambo said since the new levy was implemented on May 15, they are being subjected to serious punitive penalties.

"Already another association of other vehicles of another category have gone to court and obtained orders in a magistrate's court which is being ignored by both parties,” said Odhiambo.

Truck owners accuse KPA of usurping the power of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which is the state agency mandated to collect revenue on behalf of other state agencies.

Odhiambo complained that KPA and Mombasa County want to share the collection illegally and that was why they want the court to review the decision.

KPA started implementing its new collaboration mandate with Mombasa County on May 15 to the surprise of port users who are forced to pay the amount before entering the port.

The association's lawyer Derrick Odhiambo told Justice Sewe that the matter was urgent and that is why they wanted a temporary injunction to stop the collection of the levy.

"My clients want to be granted leave and stay because the decision to collect the levy by both parties is punitive and oppressive and contravenes Mombasa County Finance Act 2023," he said.

Odhiambo accused KPA of failing to notify the port users about the intention of charging the levy insisting there was no public participation in the levy.

In an affidavit signed by association's members Denis Okumu Ombok, they claim that besides the new levy, KPA was charging the trucks port access permits and gate passes.

Ombok insists KPA has no mandate to collect the charges in question and pleaded with the court to overturn the decision.

"We want the court to intervene and stop this blatant violation and disregard of the rights and fundamental freedom of the members and other truck owners and drivers who carry out business in the port,” said Ombok.

Ombok said unless the court intervenes in the levy would impoverish them and subject those with loans to punitive penalties.

KPA has already instructed the finance manager to implement the new law, which the association members described as a scheme to deny them their earnings.

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