By Anthony Kitimo
With PHILIP MUYANGA
Importers using the port of Mombasa can now use road transport to move cargo to their respective destinations after a bank of five judges overturned a government directive that all cargoes imported through the port should only be standard gauge to and from Nairobi Hinterland must be transported by rail (SGR).
Mercy Ireri of the Kenya Transporters Association said all vans from all East African countries using the port are now free to choose the mode of cargo transportation.
“The ruling applies to all transport companies regardless of their country of origin. This decision is a great relief for transport companies in Kenya and Uganda, which were mainly affected because they are regular transport companies, ”said Ms. Ireri.
She added, “While we are partying we don’t have full port access yet and they are restricting the transport companies but that is handled by our lawyers as this is now a contempt of the court.”
In Thursday’s ruling before the Mombasa Supreme Court, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) lost its offer to ensure reinstatement of orders to ensure SGR continues to be the only way to move cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi.
The ruling will affect cargo traffic at the Naivasha Container Depot, which was built to relieve the port of Mombasa but failed to increase cargo acceptance due to inadequate clearing and other facilities.
The court’s decision was well received by transport companies, who have asked KPA not to appeal the court decision in order to ensure the survival of their businesses.
“We had all of our trucks parked as most of the cargo was carried by SGR, but the verdict has favored us and we recommend the judges,” said Hassan Mohammed, a South Sudanese van.
Through attorney Gikandi Ngibuini, the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) argues that KPA has failed to demonstrate the significant loss it would suffer if the court’s decision were implemented.
“If the court’s decision is implemented, container owners are free to move them through either SGR or KTA,” said Ngibuini.
He further told the court that the right to vote can only be taken away if the law. Mr. Ngibuini described the KPA application as an attempt by the government to get rich in trade matters at the expense of small businesses.
The five judge bench consisted of judges Lydia Achode, Eric Ogola, Anthony Mrima, Joel Ngugi and Pauline Nyamweya.
“The complainant (KPA) has not submitted anything to this court about what he has already done in the 90 days that have passed since then,” the court ruled.
The court said the 90-day period left was sufficient for KPA to either appeal the judgment that overturned the guidelines or to appeal to the appellate court to stay enforced.