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Economy

Poles order clears way for rural power

Kenya Power
Kenya Power workers transport electricity poles for rural electrification. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The rural electrification agency has secured a court order lifting the freeze on release of power poles from its sites in a blockade that had derailed the connections to the national electricity grid.

High Court judge Weldon allowed the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) to release the transmission poles from Makuyu, Mariakani and Awasi in Kisumu.

Contractor Tropical Timber Trading Company on July 16 received a court order overturning a judges directive issued June 4 that allowed REREC to return substandard poles to suppliers for retreatment.

The electrification agency told the court that the July 16 order had also blocked the release of good poles, stalling connections.

“The orders issued on July 16 are vacated so that parties can appear before Justice Makau on July 31,” ruled Justice Korir.

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Tropical Timber, which used to supply poles to the agency, went to court early this year seeking orders to have REREC stopped from returning substandard poles to suppliers.

On May 8, the High Court issued orders directing the State power agency not to return the poles to the 18 suppliers.

On June 4, the High Court set aside its orders, effectively allowing REREC to return the poles, but the petitioner got fresh directives on July 16 reinstating the freeze order.

“The said application and interim orders are overtaken by events as the subject wooden poles were returned to the suppliers in accordance with the orders issued on June 4,” says REREC.

“That the order has stalled and continues to affect all the activities of REREC by suspending the implementation of all pending rural electrification programmes, thereby causing hardship and irreparable loss to the taxpayers.”

The parastatal said between May 8 when the order was lifted and July 16 when it was reinstated, all the 51,238 substandard poles were returned to the suppliers for treatment.

REREC said in the Friday petition that all wooden poles it acquired recently will get damaged and ultimately lead to losses if the July 16 is not lifted.

The agency says it has hired third party contractors to connect homes and businesses to the grid, arguing the court order will stall the contracts.

“The nationwide rural electrification programmes will stall leading to substantial loss of resources contrary to principle of sustainable managements of national resources,” the REREC petition said.

Kenya has made great strides in power connections from 2.8 million consumers in 2014 to the more than 6.8 million users on the grid.

But one in four Kenyans —mostly in rural areas — does not have access to electricity.

The case will be mentioned on July 31.

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