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Key Nairobi premises face power cut over Sh732m debt

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The High Court has cleared Kenya Power to disconnect electricity supply to Nairobi County government premises, public hospitals and schools under the devolved unit over a Sh732 million unpaid debt.

Justice John Mativo on Wednesday dismissed a case filed by the county government seeking to stop the company from disconnecting power to the social amenities.

Among facilities that risk disconnection are City Hall, City Hall Annex, Pumwani Hospital, Mama Lucy Hospital, Nairobi City county depots and street lights, nursery and primary schools.

In his judgment, Justice Mativo ruled that the court cannot stop Kenya Power from discharging its legal responsibility on any entity that refuses to pay bills.

The judge ruled that the Kenya Power is legally entitled to demand the payment from the regional government.

“Disconnecting power in the event of default in paying the accrued bill is a lawful process provided under the law. The court cannot issue an order of prohibition to stop a lawful process,’ he ruled.

“Upon analysing all the material before me, I find that the petitioner has not established any basis for this court to grant any of the orders sought. The effect is that this petition fails in its entirety,” justice Mativo ruled.

Justice Mativo further said that with the promulgation of the Constitution and establishment of the devolved governments, the county government took over the running of the schools, hospitals and installations in question.

He indicated that the county government had agreed to pay the debt and even made payment for a considerable period before turning round to deny the same debt it had acknowledged.

The judge also took issue with the county government for bringing the dispute before the constitutional court instead of seeking an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

“This petition does not raise any constitutional question at all. This court abhors the practice of parties converting every issue into a constitutional question and filling the suits disguised as constitutional petition when in fact they do not fall anywhere close to violation to constitutional rights,” he said.

In its pleadings, City Hall denied inheriting the liabilities of the defunct local government and asked the court to declare that it is not entitled to pay the outstanding electivity bills amounting to Sh723,017,002.20.

It stated that disconnection of power would jeopardise rights to life, care services and security to millions of Nairobi residents.