Nairobi County Government yesterday lost its legal fight with Kenya Power in a bid that had sought to block the utility firm from disconnecting key city institutions over a Sh732 million debt.
Mike Sonko’s administration had dragged KPLC to court arguing that a demand requiring it to pay Sh 732,017,002 in unpaid electricity bills due from the defunct Nairobi City Council was illegal.
Sonko was fighting to stop the Kenya Power and Lighting Company from disconnecting electricity to City Hall Annex, Pumwani Hospital, Mama Lucy Hospital, as well as schools run by the county government, and street lights.
Justice John Mativo, however, said issuing such an order against KPLC would amount to stopping a lawful process.
The judge said the county failed to demonstrate that it is under no obligation to pay the debt and also failed to offer any evidence to demonstrate that KPLC’s demand is illegal.
"Upon analysing the material before court and upon considering the argument advanced by both parties, I find the petition has not established any basis for this court to grant any of the orders sought," the judge said.
The County had refused to settle the debt on grounds that the bill was inherited from the defunct city Council – which should have cleared it.
It was the County’s argument that the liabilities of the former local authority were never transited to it and the claim against it was therefore in bad faith.
It denied that it inherited the liabilities of the defunct local authority further saying the demand offends the Constitution, the Transition to Devolved Government Act and the fair Administrative action.
Among the orders the county wanted the court to issue is a declaration that it is not a body entitled to pay the outstanding electricity bills.
While dismissing the case, Justice Mativo said the law permits KPLC to not only demand the charges for electricity supply but also to disconnect the supply.
The judge said KPLC did not commit any illegal act by demanding payment from the county.
“The petitioner took over the running of the schools, hospitals and the other institutions in question.it assumed the benefits and agreed to make payment for a considerable period” the judge said.
He said the County cannot therefore turn around and deny the same debt it had acknowledged.
"The upshot of this order is that this petition fails in its entirety," ruled Mativo.