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Rural Electrification Authority to gain from court verdict on laptop project

The High Court's decision to nullify the Sh24.6 billion tender for the supply of free laptops to primary schools will give the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) ample time to connect electricity in schools.

REA chairman Simon Gicharu said yesterday in Mombasa that the ruling was a blessing in disguise as the authority now had more time to complete installing power in all the schools.

Last week, a three-judge bench nullified the tender for the supply of laptops to primary schools to "promote equity and cost effectiveness in the process".

Out of the over 21,222 public primary schools in the country, 10,157, which represent 48 per cent, already have electricity and 11,065 are yet to be plugged to the national grid.

Yesterday, Mr Gicharu said tenders for the supply of 3,000 solar panels for schools that are not within reach of the electricity supply line had been issued.

"We will seek assurance from Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) that when the suppliers arrive at the port, they can be cleared fast to enable us complete the project before laptops arrive," said Gicharu, who is also the chairman of Mount Kenya University.

He said there had been instances in the past when imported equipment took a long time to be cleared at the port.

He appealed to KPA to fast-track clearance of such equipment to enable the authority instal power in schools. 

KPA ASSURANCE

He said REA plans to connect power to all by the end of this financial year to pave the way for the laptop project by the Jubilee government.

"It would not have been good if the laptops had arrived and given out to pupils whose schools have no electricity. It is better the other way round and though we are not happy that the tender was cancelled, we can say that it will give us time to finish the work," said Gichara in Mombasa yesterday.

KPA chairman Danson Mungatana said  the supplies, including the transmitters, would be cleared faster from the port to enable REA complete the task.

"We are ready to help REA and have given assurance that we will do our part to make sure the cargo is cleared fast as long as the suppliers meet all requirements, especially by Kenya Revenue Authority," said Mr Mungatana.

He assured REA chairman that the port was currently efficient, owing to the huge investment the Government has made to buy cargo-handling equipment.

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