Duty free firm loses bid to stop JKIA eviction

JKIA duty free
A duty free shop at the International departures area of Terminal 1A at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Maya Duty Free, a company operating from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s (JKIA), has lost its legal fight to stop eviction from the premier facility.

Justice Eric Mwita on Tuesday dismissed a suit filed by the firm challenging the decision to kick it out of JKIA’s Terminal 4, noting that Maya failed to prove its constitutional rights were being infringed when it was issued with an eviction order.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) in February 2017 gave Maya Duty Free 14 days to vacate JKIA and hand it (premises) over to Switzerland’s Dufry International, which had been selected after tendering.

“I am not persuaded that this petition was well intended in view of the fact that there are other legal process challenging the same tender and the petitioner opted to come to this court over the same issue,” ruled justice Mwita.

Maya Duty Free sued KAA last year terming the decision illegal after it was ordered to surrender the space to Dufry International.

The judge while directing it to bear legal costs incurred by KAA and Dufry ruled that Maya is a tenant and cannot raise a constitutional issue on the termination of the lease.

On Thursday, the firm renewed its fight for control of the space, rushing back to the High Court with a fresh application seeking to stop eviction pending hearing of the appeal against Justice Mwita’s decision.

The company in its fresh application noted that it is still in occupation of the premises and risks being hounded out and its goods getting damaged leading to huge loss.

Maya managing director Kuldip Madan Sapra said that failure to give conservatory orders pending appeal will render its appeal nugatory.

The firm had accused the KAA of deliberately evicting it from the location to grant Dufry a monopoly over concessions at Unit Four in violation of Kenya’s competition laws.

It argued that the decision was contrary to the terms of a contract that the KAA entered into with Dufry in January 2015.

Dufry already operates another duty-free shop at Terminal 4.

The KAA’s contract with Dufry gives the Swiss firm the right to operate a duty-free shop, a restaurant, a communication and phone centre and a foreign exchange service until 2024.

on a maximum of 730 square metres.

Ownership of duty-free shops at JKIA has been at the centre of vicious battles between local and international firms since Kenyan businessman Kamlesh Pattni agreed to surrender his rights over the space at the busy Nairobi airport.

Dufry was in 2015 awarded a tender to operate a concession store at the airport following a protracted legal battle with Suzan General — another firm linked to Mr Pattni.