Blow to KPLC as court stops Sh21b meters tender amid claims of graft

Kenya Power technicians replace a transformer at Kanyange village in Othaya, Nyeri County. [File, Standard]

Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has been dealt a blow after the High Court stopped it from awarding a Sh21 billion tender for the supply of meters.

Justice John Chigiti issued the order following a suit by a businessman claiming that the tender was riddled with corruption, inflation of the meter prices and collusion between top KPLC management and the companies awarded the contracts.

“The court hereby suspends implementation of any decision arising from the notification to award the tender including but not limited to actual tender award, signing of the contracts, or execution of procurement of the materials pending determination of the suit,” ruled Justice Chigiti.

Justice Chigiti also allowed the petitioner, Benedict Kabugi Ndung’u, to file the substantive motion to quash the entire tendering process that led to the award of the contract to Inhemeter Africa Company Ltd, Smart Meter Technology Ltd, Yocean Group Ltd and Magnate Ventures Ltd.

Ndung’u claims that the procurement process leading to the award of the contract to the four companies on May 2 was marred by procedural and substantive irregularities to lock out some companies.

According to the petitioner, KPLC had initially restricted the tender for local manufacturing firms but changed it at the last minute to include importers and local assemblers, who ended up getting the contract.

“KPLC engaged in acts of collusion when it went against its own tender specification and added a flurry of addenda in an attempt to custom make the contract for a few preferred bidders who engaged in active collusive practices,” says Ndung’u.

He alleges that KPLC deliberately watered down the financial requirements, changed the technical specifications and the tender security requirements to favour the preferred bidders.

Kenya Power awarded the tender to Inhemeter for Sh5.4 billion, Smart Meter for Sh4.6 billion, Yocean for Sh5.4 billion and Magnate for Sh5.4 billion.

But Ndung’u claims that the tender price per meter was inflated and does not match with the price quoted by local manufacturers.

“The winning bidders were awarded to supply the meters at approximately Sh7,000 per meter while the current existing supplier of meters with KPLC charges Sh4,000 for the same meters. This almost double price and avenue to embezzle public funds.”

Despite a notice by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority that they were investigating the claims of corruption and irregularities in awarding the tender, he says, KPLC went ahead to sign the contracts.

Justice Chigiti directed KPLC to file its response within seven days and scheduled the hearing on June 28.