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Court blocks county from demanding Sh1b from KPLC in way-leave charges

The Court of Appeal on Friday blocked Nairobi County government from demanding Sh1 billion from the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) for electricity poles and way-leave charges.

Appellate judges William Ouko, Mohamed Warsame and Kathurimna M’Inoti said the electricity provider was likely to be exposed to demands worth Sh47 billion by other counties and would be compelled to increase power tariffs.

The appellate Bench said the power firm had complained that there was a likelihood of all 47 county governments demanding similar payments and it would be faced with two hard choices; to transfer the charges to the consumer or be rendered insolvent.

“Sh47 billion is, by all means, a colossal amount and if KPLC is forced to pay, it may be rendered insolvent. The alternative, that is passing the costs to the common mwananchi, would have a more devastating effect because it may result in electricity being hiked beyond the reach of many Kenyans.

Further, if the appeal is successful and KPLC had already passed the costs to Kenyans it would be difficult to recover the extra costs of electricity imposed on the ordinary and overburdened Kenyan consumers,” Justices Ouko, Warsame and M’Inoti reasoned in their judgment.

“We note that the Nairobi County government has not disputed the figure of Sh47 billion as contended by KPLC. We do not agree with the county government that damages would suffice if the appeal by KPLC succeeds,” the court noted.

The judges consequently restrained the county government from trespassing or interfering with the firm’s premises.

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