A State agency has been allowed to construct a power line through private land, whose owners rejected Sh294 million State compensation for compulsory acquisition.
Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Kentraco) was given the green light by the court to continue with the construction of a power transmission line connecting Kenya and Tanzania as it legally battles for the wayleave rights.
Kentraco will continue with the construction of 132KV Isinya-Kajiado-Namanga transmission line that is intended to evacuate geothermal energy at Olkaria by connecting to the completed Olkaria-Suswa-Isinya transmission line.
High Court Judge Christine Ochieng’ ordered the 125 landowners not to interfere with construction works on their properties, pending determination, on July 7, of an application filed by Kentraco.
The judge gave the landowners, who include former Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni and Godfrey Kipury, 21 days to respond to the application by Kentraco.
In the case, the court was told those who declined compensation offer were unlikely to suffer any prejudice by the temporary court orders. However, in the event that they suffer any harm, it was Kentraco’s case that they will be compensated by an award of damages.
Kentraco said the court had the discretion to order continuity of the project set to end this year as parties wait to resolve the issue of compensation payable to the 125 landowners.
The State agency sought to be allowed to deposit the Sh294,124,502 million in court or in a joint interest bank account in the names of lawyers representing the parties.
The 132KV transmission line will bring to an end power outage in the area and provide cheaper, reliable and sustainable geothermal power when the project is completed.
In an affidavit filed in court by the parastatal’s Senior Land Economist Mary Wanjohi, the 400KV line is to facilitate power exchange and electricity trade in the region by connecting to the East African and the South African power pools.
The two projects financed by loans from Exim Bank of India and African Development Bank are to run parallel to each other from Isinya to the Namanga border, covering 70 metres wide.
Kentraco published, through a gazette notice on April 21, 2017, the properties to be traversed by the said power lines and randomly valued the land-based on factors such as the proximity to shopping centres and location from the main roads. “The compensation is for limited loss of land use as the applicant does not compulsorily acquire the land from the landowners and only acquires right of way over the lands as the owner retains the proprietorship of the land,” Wanjohi said.
The right of way only restricts the landowner from building structures or planting crops and trees that at maturity exceed 12ft in height under the power line for safety reasons.
However, Naikuni and the other 124 rejected the independent valuation conducted by Kentraco, a move that saw all the parties agree on valuation to be carried out by the National Land Commission (NLC) to end the stalemate.
They also rejected being offered compensation for limited loss of land use, based on the NLC valuations, claiming their parcels were undervalued. “In an attempt to end the stalemate, the applicant further increased its offer by increasing the impact on respondents’ lands by a further 5 per cent, which greatly increased the payable compensation. Again, this was rejected by the respondents,” she added.
Some of the landowners accepted the 35 per cent offer but the 125 stood their ground, forcing Kentraco to go to court. Naikuni’s land totals 25 acres, while Kipury has 1052.127. Kentraco needs 2.250 acres for the wayleave.