Okoa Mombasa member MUHURI sues to break Safaricom monopoly at Likoni ferry

April 20, 2021

Last updated: 13 May 2021

Okoa Mombasa member MUHURI has sued Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) over its toll service at the Likoni crossing channel, which requires motorists to use Safaricom’s MPESA service for all payments. The lawsuit seeks orders to revoke the monopoly on payments given to Safaricom.

Okoa Mombasa called on KFS to end the monopoly in March 2021, and supports MUHURI’s lawsuit.

KFS introduced a cashless system in October 2020 and directed that tolls be paid exclusively via MPESA, Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service. MUHURI wrote to KFS last year, asking them to rescind their unilateral decision and allow non-MPESA users to pay tolls using modes of their choice. But the parastatal did not respond.

In February this year, MUHURI chairman Khelef Khalifa and rapid response officer Francis Auma were arrested for protesting the arrangement. Police arrested and charged them with causing disturbance and obstruction. Both deny the charges.

In this petition, the Transport CS James Macharia and Attorney General Paul Kihara are listed as the second and third respondents, respectively, while KFS is the first.

KFS has been turning away users without MPESA, curtailing their freedom of movement, the petition notes. Vehicles liable for toll charges are saloon cars, pickups, trucks, trailers, buses, fuel tankers, motorcycles and handcarts.

“The respondents’ actions, as herein complained of, constitute blatant violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the constitution,” the petition reads.

MUHURI says there have been substantial and irreparable loss and damage because of the KFS’ decision.

The court has certified the case urgent and set inter partes hearing on April 22, 2021.

Update 13 May 2021: Today, the court granted Kenya Ferry Services seven days to file submissions in response to MUHURI’s lawsuit. The next hearing to review the submissions is scheduled for 27 July 2021.

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