Cofek files petition to stop charging highway tolls

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Economy

Cofek files petition to stop charging highway tolls


Freeway

Nairobi Expressway along Waiyaki Way, Westlands in this photo taken on April 16, 2022. PHOTO | JEF ANGOTE | NMG

The High Court has certified as urgent a petition challenging government-introduced toll charges for motorists who will use the Chinese-built double-decker Nairobi Expressway.

Judge Anthony Mrima ordered the petitioner, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek), to deliver the court papers to the Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure within three days.

Cofek accuses the transport minister of failing to carry out public participation as required by law before publishing base toll rates in December, which it then updated in April ahead of the highway’s scheduled inauguration on Saturday.

The lobby says that the toll charges pose huge economic implications for Kenyans and as such their introduction without public consultation would amount to illegality and is unconstitutional.

Motorists are expected to pay between 120 shillings and 1,800 shillings in toll charges, depending on the size of the vehicle and the distance travelled, the Kenya Gazette showed on April 22.

The notice added that prices would be adjusted based on changes in the consumer price index and prevailing exchange rates.

Citizens’ rights

Cofek says that he had requested an explanation based on the toll rates and contractual documentation relating to the Nairobi Expressway without receiving any response.

His lawyer, Moses Sikuta, says that the letter and spirit of the Public Highway Toll Law, of 1984 and which was amended in 2007, is inconsistent and violates the Constitution. As such, he added, reliance on the same in the formulation and eventual official publication of the Nairobi Expressway base toll rates is null and void.

He said that the haphazard introduction of highway tolls would also reduce citizens’ right to enjoy rights and benefits, and specifically lead to discrimination.

“Legislation that introduces a caste system of lower and higher citizens, linked to affordability and wealth, in the same country where they share common citizenship and heritage is bad,” he said.

Lobbying said it was illegal for the CS to issue notices without supporting regulations as of December 21, 2020, and if any existed, they did not and still do not conform to the provisions of the Statutory Instruments Act.

Read: Deputies support the return of tolls on roads and bridges

Test phase

Kenya has launched the construction of a double-decker highway linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with the Nairobi-Nakuru Expressway using private investment from China Road and Bridge Construction (CRBC).

The Sh88 billion project is financed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, according to the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).

The Chinese firm is expected to make an estimated profit of Sh106.8 billion over the 27 years it will own the expressway.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to launch the highway on May 14. “Please note that the trial phase is not free. Tolls will apply at the point of exit”, a signature notice on the daily nation on Friday read.

Read: No M-Pesa payments for Expressway

rehabilitation

Furthermore, Cofek has protested that Mombasa Road has been narrowed and, in most areas, the initial three lanes have been reduced to two, apparently to cause more traffic jams “so that motorists are forced to use the upper deck. private elevated.

“The original road has not been restored to its original state, with road markings, signs and lighting, and worse, stormwater from the elevated road hit motorists. The trees that were cut down have not been replaced,” the organization said.

The government, Cofek added, has not communicated with road users about how they will interact with the changes.

The case will be mentioned on May 19 for instructions, the judge said.

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