Kenya Power has been barred from proceeding with a Sh2 billion tender for the supply of meters after local assemblers moved to the High Court and obtained an order suspending the process.
Justice Jairus Ngaah issued the order suspending the purchase after Kenyan firms said their complaint of being locked out was dismissed by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board on a technicality.
The board threw out a plea by four local companies last week stating that their action was late.
“The respondent, therefore, drove the applicant away from the seat of justice without being heard on the merits of its case despite the respondent having wrongfully failed to exercise its jurisdiction and mandate, as sought by the applicant,” the companies said through lawyer Titus Koceyo.
The firms including Smart Meters Technology Ltd, Shenzhen Star Instrument Company Ltd, Magnate Ventures Ltd and Inhemeter Africa Company Ltd had lamented that KPLC locked them out of the tender by placing limits that favour foreigners.
Unlawful and biased
They say a requirement for successful bidder to have a minimum of 15 years technical specifications experience in manufacture of energy meters is unlawful and biased yet they have invested heavily and have been supplying KP since 2015.
Justice Ngaah directed Mr Koceyo to serve KP within three days and set the hearing of the case for June 28. The power utility company defended the decision to restrict the tender to international firms arguing that there has been massive failures for locally assembled meters.
The suspension comes a few weeks after High Court halted a similar tender for the supply of transformers worth Sh1.5 billion.
Five local firms led by Pan Africa Transformers & Switchgears Ltd argue that the tender terms are skewed, unfair, and meant to shut out local manufacturers from the multibillion-shilling deal in favour of foreign firms.
The tenders demanded firms with 10 years manufacturing experience, but local firms say they are in breach because they were set up in 2015.
Kenya Power has been seeking to increase the supply of transformers to match rising connectivity, especially in rural areas.
The tender for the supply of transformers was uploaded on Kenya Power’s website on March 11. Bid documents were amended three times and each time, introduced terms that local firms say are hard to meet.
They argue that the public procurement regulations require a buyer to encourage participation by local contractors to promote the local industry.
A ruling on the decision local manufacturers will be made on July 1.