The Nakuru County government is set to lose over Sh17 million in monthly revenue from matatus that operate in close proximity of the town centre.
This after High Court Judge Teresia Matheka on Tuesday temporarily halted the government from collecting of Sh2,000 from 8,600 public service vehicles following a suit filed in December 15 last year by the Central Rift PSV Transporters Cooperative Society Limited on behalf of 84 Saccos.
“Pending the hearing and determination of the application inter parte hearing, a conservatory order is hereby issued barring the respondent, its agents or person acting under its authority from demanding from the petitioners' fees for seasonal tickets,” read Justice Matheka’s orders.
The judge certified the application as urgent and directed the operators to serve the county within three days. The county was given seven days to file its response and the hearing for the application set for January 23.
The suit stems from the county’s decision on March 25 last year to relocate PSVs outside the town centre in a move officials said was intended to reduce congestion and curb the spread of Covid-19.
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Lawyer David Mongeri for the matatu Saccos told the court that the chaotic relocation to the Annex stage and Ziwani grounds had resulted in loss of income.
“The petitioners were removed from the county government’s premises to privately owned premises and thus do not operate, occupy, nor utilise the county’s resources,” reads the suit.
Notwithstanding the relocation, the court documents state, the county has started demanding the seasonal fees yet the matatus are no longer operating in town. The petitioners accuse the county of “forcefully and oppressively” confiscating the vehicles of operators who refuse to pay the fees.
The suit terms the county’s attempts as an “unconstitutional and unfair act that infringes on the rights to fair administrative actions.”
It further notes that despite the fee demand, the operators continue to work in unhygienic environments that lack adequate sanitation, water, toilets, offices, roofs and proper drainage.
“The petitioners are likely to suffer irreparable harm and loss if the decision by the county is enforced,” reads the suit.
“The places the PSVs operate from are unsecured with lack of street lights, which has seen a rise in cases of vandalism in recent months.”
This latest lawsuit follows another where the operators want the court to set aside the county’s decision to relocate them from the town centre. The court will issue a verdict on January 28.