NAIROBI November 6 – A case challenging the recent increase of parking fees in Nairobi is due to be heard on November 17.,
Local radio host Fred Obachi Machoka is opposed to the charges which rose from Sh70 to Sh140, in a move City Hall claimed was meant to discourage motorists from parking in the city centre.
On Wednesday, Mr Machoka’s lawyer Assa Nyakundi told the court that the move was ‘outrageous, unreasonable, cruel and harsh’ to Nairobi citizens.
Mr Nyakundi argued that the decision to increase the fee was ‘arbitrary, excessive and traumatising.’ He also claimed it was malicious, greedy, and sudden because it failed to hold the public in due regard.
"In the build up to the said increase, it as vainly stated by public officials that such increment was justified as it wouldn’t hurt common people in the false premise that motor vehicle owners are rich and can afford such atrocious increment without demurrer. This is a consideration that is not only false but callous, careless, condescending, arrogant and dismissal of the often trampled upon common man," his complaint read in part.
Mr Machoka wants the court to quash the decision and bar the council from charging the new fees which went into effect last week.
But in a response, the Director of Legal Affairs at the City Hall, Mary Ngethe maintained that the City Council had in October 2006 passed a statutory resolution proposing that various categories of fees, rent and charges pertaining to goods and services rendered within its jurisdiction be reviewed, subject to ministerial consent.
Mrs Ngethe said the council, guided by the said resolution, applied to Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi in July this year and obtained approval for a revision.
She argued that the applicant lacked any standing to challenge the order because lawful steps were followed in effecting it. Mr Machoka had also failed to demonstrate that he owned vehicles that would be affected by the order.
She also claimed that the applicant was unwilling to challenge the gazette notice through which the revision and other fees was published.
"In law, the contents of a gazette notice can only be challenged by the quashing of the offensive contents thereof or by a rescission of the same. In this case, no orders are sought to quash it," she said in papers filed in court.
Justice Joseph Nyamu ordered Mr Machoka’s lawyer to serve all the respondents with the relevant suit documents before the hearing.
The parking fee hike was endorsed by Mr Mudavadi a week ago and took effect on October 31.
The Minister said the charge was justified and added that it was still far below what private companies charge.
"Private bays charge Sh100 for an hour, where one ends up paying Sh500 a day. So if you compare that with Sh140 there’s really no issue here," Mr Mudavadi said.
The Deputy Premier argued that the new charges would affect the upper class in society. "We are targeting people with means because somebody with a car is not a poor man. This is a very small figure," he said.
But Motorists in Nairobi are up in arms over the new fees and have repeatedly accused the city council of failing to provide services that warrant such an increase.