Kenya Power has been barred from proceeding with a Sh2 billion tender for the supply of meters after local assemblers moved to the High Court and obtained an order suspending the process.
Justice Jairus Ngaah issued the order suspending the procurement process on Friday after the local assemblers' complaint of being locked out was dismissed by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board on a technicality.
The board dismissed the application filed by four local companies last week stating that the companies moved to the board late.
“The Respondent, therefore, drove the Applicant away from the seat of justice without being heard on the merits of its case despite the Respondent having wrongfully failed to exercise its jurisdiction and mandate, as sought by the Applicant,” the companies said through lawyer Titus Koceyo.
The companies including Smart Meters Technology Ltd, Shenzhen Star Instrument Company Ltd, Magnate Ventures Ltd and Inhemeter Africa Company Ltd had complained that KPLC locked them out of the tender by placing restrictions that favour foreign firms.
The local firms argue that the requirement for successful bidder to have a minimum of 15 years technical specifications experience in manufacture of energy meter is unlawful and discriminatory yet they have invested heavily and have been supplying to KPLC since 2015.
Justice Ngaah directed Mr Koceyo to serve KP within three days and set the hearing of the case for June 28.
The power utility company defended the decision to restrict the tender to international firms arguing that there has been massive failures for locally assembled meters.
The suspension comes a few weeks after a similar tender for the supply of transformers worth Sh1.5 billion was also suspended by the High Court.
Five local companies led by Pan Africa Transformers & Switchgears ltd argue that the tender requirements are skewed, unfair, and meant to shut out local manufacturers from the multibillion-shilling deal in favour of foreign firms.