, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 21- Taxi operators in Nairobi can now operate freely after the High Court quashed the decision by the City Council to implement new rules on licensing taxi cabs within the Central Business District.
Justice Roselyn Wendoh declared null and void a City Council of Nairobi (CCN) requirement that all taxi cabs be inspected again. She also ruled out a schedule dividing the CBD into four zones and limiting the number of taxis in the center of the city.
Justice Wendoh said that the manner in which CCN came up with the new licensing rules and being effected is unfair to taxi operators.
The judge observed that new rules were imposed on the applicants without prior warning or consultation yet the implementation of said regulations needed time and money.
“In my view the decision was unfair, unreasonable and punitive of the applicants,\’\’ she ruled.
Justice Wendoh said that although the rules have partially been implemented to enhance the taxi business, they lack necessary foundation and cannot be sustained.
The court said the Town Clerk denied the taxi operators a chance to be heard when the rules that directly affect the rights of the taxi operators were made.
“By-laws were being changed unilaterally without hearing or consulting the stakeholder, the taxi operators. Those changes may totally affect their rights to livelihood and the respondent should have complied with the law. Having failed to do so, the decision does attract an order of certiorari (judicial review),\’\’added the judge.
She held that a change to the requirements of taxi cabs licensing should have been made through an amendment of the by-laws but not through a memo or a mere rule made by the Town Clerk.
The Kenya Taxi Cab Association had moved to court protesting against the new rules which included banning taxi cabs which are more than 10 years old from being licensed and the requirement for inspection of taxis.
The applicants were challenging the January 18, 2010 memo which sought to introduce changes to the law that all taxi cabs be painted yellow and that temporary permits be issued pending compliance with other requirements.
It was their argument the memo contravenes the taxi Cab By-laws 2007 adding the decision was insensitive and breached their legitimate expectation as stakeholders ought to have been consulted before the changes were made.
CCN had urged the court to strike out the suit arguing it has the powers to regulate, control the taxi business and discretionary powers to grant or refuse licenses.
The council had also claimed that taxi operators had written back appreciating the new changes meant to decongest the NCBD.