A court in Mombasa has denied Kenya Ports Authority’s request to delay implementation of an order abolishing two directives requiring all Mombasa Port cargo to be transported via the Standard Gauge Railway.

The case includes multiple Okoa Mombasa members and affiliates amongst the petitioners and interested parties.

Nullification of the directives would restore importers’ right to choose how they transport cargo – by road or rail. The current rules require all cargo to go by SGR, which costs significantly more than road transport. The directives are part of the government’s plan to prop up the cash-hemorrhaging SGR, which was built with a USD 3.2 billion loan from China and continues to lose money.

The High Court’s latest ruling on 5 February 2021 ruling reaffirmed its decision in November 2020 which found the directives unconstitutional due to lack of public participation and non-compliance with fair administrative procedures. Implementation of that order was delayed for 180 days, however, to give KPA an opportunity to “regularize” the situation – namely by conducting a public participation exercise.

But instead of conducting the public participation exercise, KPA announced it would appeal. It then asked the court to further suspend implementation of the order until its appeal could be fully heard and decided.

On 5 February, the court said that its original ruling would stand:

In our view the stay of 180 days which was granted was adequate to enable the Applicant, if it wished to comply with the said orders, to do so. However, the Applicant has a constitutional right of appeal, and it has indeed filed a Notice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal. The Applicant has not placed anything before this court about what it has already done with the 90 days which have since lapsed.

KPA still has the option of applying to the Court of Appeal for a delay in implementing the judgment. If they do not – or if that application is denied – the High Court’s order nullifying the SGR cargo directives would take effect on or about 5 May 2021.

Read the February 5, 2021 judgment.

Read the November 6, 2020 judgment.