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Transporters ask five-judge bench to stop Naivasha cargo order

By Willis Oketch | June 21st 2020

Members of Kenya Transport Association want a five-judge bench, hearing a petition challenging the monopoly of Standard Gauge Railway SGR freight service on cargo transport from Mombasa port, to urgently resolve the dispute.

The bench created by the Chief Justice last year to listen to a similar petition, has not met this year because of travel restrictions imposed over the Covid-19 pandemic. Their meeting, which was set for April to hear an application against the SGR freight service, did not materialise.

On Friday, the association applied to have the same bench hear their fresh petition against a recent State order for all transit cargo to be ferried by train to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Naivasha.

In an application filed in Mombasa court, which was certified as urgent, the association wants the bench to stop a government directive that all containers be transported from Mombasa port to ICD in Naivasha because it is infringing on its members’ right to earn a living.

Clearance and collection

The association’s Chief Executive Dennis Okumu Ombok, in a sworn affidavit, wants the court to nullify the decision of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Cabinet Secretary Transport James Macharia ordering all containers from Mombasa port to be transported to Naivasha via SGR.

The State wants containers’ owners to collect their cargo in Naivasha by trucks instead of travelling to Mombasa for clearance and collection.

Ombok’s lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini said the orders had negative effects on local transporters and would further cripple the already limping transport business.

“That at any rate, directions be given for the earliest possible hearing of this application before the five-judge bench Justice Lydia Achode, Justice Erick Ogola, Justice Ngugi, Justice Pauline Nyamweya and Justice Antony Mrima,” said Gikandi.

He added that Macharia’s directives were sub judice as there was already another matter pending before the five judge bench, which has not been determined. He added that the case before the court, which is similar to the one they had filed, was brought to court on November 27, last year, and was closely related to No.159 of 2018, filed by William Odhiambo Ramogi.

Gikandi argued that since the court could hear petitions virtually, it was not necessary that the five judges sit in one central place.

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