Civil society group, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) has challenged the exclusive use of Safaricom’s MPESA for payment of toll charges at the Likoni ferry crossing channel. According to Muhuri, there’s currently no motorist allowed to use the channel without making payments through the cashless system.

In its petition at the High Court in Mombasa, Muhuri has sued Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and Attorney General Kihara Kariuki.

Muhuri is seeking a declaration that the decision to adopt MPESA as the only mode of payment for the charges without regard to constitutional and statutory provisions is illegal, null and void. It also wants an order prohibiting the respondents from imposing the exclusive use of the MPESA service at the channel.

KFS introduced the cashless payment option last year to ease congestion at the toll charge station. Vehicles liable for toll charges are saloon cars, pickups, trucks, trailers, buses, and fuel tankers, motorcycles and mikokoteni (handcarts).

According to Muhuri, since February, KFS has compelled motorists and others liable to pay toll charges to use MPESA to the exclusion of other payment options including other cashless systems.

“While the introduction of a cashless payment system is laudable in view of containment of the spread of COVID-19, KFS’ refusal to accept cash or any other cashless payment system save for MPESA is discriminative, oppressive, unfair and unjust. As a result of the KFS directive and refusal to accept alternative modes of payments except for MPESA, motorists and citizens have been grossly inconvenienced,” argues Muhuri.

It says that the respondents’ actions violate the provisions of the Competition Act No 12 of 2010 and that by exclusively adopting MPESA service, they are unjustly restricting competition to the detriment of ferry users. The human rights organization also wants an order issued compelling the respondents to accept payment of toll charges by cash and other widely accepted cashless modes of payment.

In his supporting affidavit, Muhuri’s chairperson Khelef Khalifa says that the respondent’s actions have the effect of curtailing freedom of movement endowed on people under the Constitution.