The court said the March 2020 and August 2020 directive by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) requiring importers to use the Madaraka Express Freight Service between the port of Mombasa and the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi was unconstitutional because all stakeholders were not consulted.

However, the court gave both KPA and KRC six months to comply with the court order to avert “potential disruption of the orderly operation of the port and operationalisation of the National Transport Policy.”

In July 2020, parliament’s Department Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing released a report on the inquiry into the use of SGR in which they criticised the government for forcing importers to use SGR.

“Forced [use of rail] is against international maritime laws and World Trade Organisation treaties that allow freight owners to choose the mode of transport that is competitive in their view,” the report said.

The report added that the forced use of SGR “has not only increased the cost of doing business because of the high cost of transporting freight but also threatened Kenya’s position as the regional logistics hub.”

The $US 3.8bn line, which opened in 2017, was constructed by China Road and Bridge Corporation with 90% financing from China.