The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the City Council of Nairobi are wrangling over collection of license fees and advertising revenue from businesses located in two major airports.
The two bodies are locked in a tug-of-war over the control of multi-million licensing revenue from businesses at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and the Wilson Airport in Nairobi.
KAA says it has powers under the Kenya Airports Authority Act to manage aerodromes and provide essential services for the smooth operation and security of travellers.
It says that it engages various entities to operate in the airports as ground handlers, travel agents, forex bureaux, banks and hotel reservation desks from whom it collects various fees.
According to KAA, the revenue is used for the maintenance of roads, parking, drainage, sewerage and other essential services within the airports.
However, the City Council wants to collect permit fees, advertisement revenue and other charges from the businesses like it does in other parts of the city.
In a blow to the council’s bid to assert its control in the two airports, KAA on Wednesday obtained an injunction stopping the council from conducting a census of businesses in the two airports.
The census was a step towards the council’s resolve to “illegally” take over the collection of billboard revenues, single business permit fees and other levies within the airports, KAA had told the court.
The authority also accuses City Council officials of harassing and intimidating those carrying out businesses at the airports.
“The harassment and intimidation antics by the respondent are threatening to halt the proper functions of the two airports,” KAA lawyer Tedd Moya told the court.
KAA filed the suit urgently on Wednesday, claiming that a confrontation was looming between its workers, tenants and concessionaires, and City Council officials.
Mr Justice Kennedy Ogolla restrained the council from conducting the census or issuing demand notices, collecting advertisement fees, single business levy, license fees or other charges at the two airports pending determination of the suit.
“Under the law, the City Council has no jurisdiction within the precincts of the airport,” lawyer Waweru Gatonye, also for KAA, had told the judge as he pleaded for the injunction. “The city council has no role in regulating the businesses within the airport.”
The lawyer said that airports were not for businesses alone but were sensitive areas that handled security, immigration and international travels. Airports are protected areas, he added.
KAA wants the court to permanently stop the City Council from issuing demand notices, collecting advertisement fees, single business permit levy, license fees or other charges from its tenants, concessionaires and other service providers within JKIA and Wilson Airport.
It also wants the court to declare that the City Council lacks jurisdiction to demand or collect advertisement revenue and license fees at the airports.
The dispute has been simmering since 2010. KAA states that it had been exclusively providing services to aerodrome users and charging relevant fees.
From July 2010, the City Council started to issue “sporadic” demand notices to KAA’s tenants and concessionaires, seeking payment of fees, according to KAA.
The City Council resorted to harassing the business operators, leading to a state of anxiety, uncertainty and insecurity, according to KAA.
KAA company secretary Joy Nyaga says that negotiations to solve the dispute have failed.