Kenya power users can sue firm

August 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12- A city lawyer now says consumers can sue the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) for rationing power.

Speaking to Capital News lawyer Moses Kurgat said KPLC was acting illegally by rationing power arguing that the Electric Power Act no 11 of 1997 gives no provision for rationing.

“KPLC allocates you a certain maximum amount of power and when they fail to do that they are susceptible to being sued,” Mr Kurgat said.

“Under the provisions of Section 30 of the Electric Power Act the maximum power as agreed in the supply agreement must be supplied failure to which there is breach of contract which entitles an individual to damages,” he explained.

He said owing to the vagaries of weather KPLC, as the suppliers of power, ought to have consulted with consumers to decide on what action needs to be taken.

“When you impose rationing to the public without any explanation or any duty then they are punishing those who are paying to have electricity. They should have consulted with the public and come up with an amicable decision,” Mr Kurgat said.

But in its defence KPLC cited the lack of water as reason for implementing the rationing scheme but the lawyer views it as lack of proper planning by power supplier.

Mr Kurgat however said under the Energy Act, there is provision for the President to declare a public emergency that would allow for the interruption of power supply.

The President is however required to hold consultations with the Energy Regulatory Board, which was not done prior to the decision to ration power.

Situations that could occasion such a directive include national disasters, floods, drought and acts of war among others.

Mr Kurgat noted the power company is always quick to cut off power when one fails to pay electricity bills, but slow in “service delivery.”

Kenya’s problem is compounded by the fact that there is only one national power generator (KenGen) and power supplier (KPLC).  There have been calls to liberalise the energy sector that would see more people take charge of the power situation in the country.

The lawyer however calls on Kenyans to form associations before filing the suit rather than doing it as individuals as it gives the case greater probability of success.

“People should also consult their lawyers extensively before they proceed to court,” he said.


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