In a ruling with potential implications for Kenya's power infrastructure, the High Court has halted the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) from awarding a Sh285 million contract for emergency restoration towers (ERTs) and galvanized steel structures.

This decision comes after a legal challenge by Sharpcut Designers Limited, a disqualified bidder for the project.

The legal dispute originated in October 2023 when KPLC issued a tender for the ERTs and steel structures.

Sharpcut Designers submitted a bid valued at Ksh 269,175,844.

However, they were disqualified in March 2024 due to an incomplete "Historical Contract Performance Default" form.

This form mandated bidders to disclose any unresolved legal cases.

While Sharpcut Designers acknowledged ongoing litigation, they were disqualified for failing to specify the details.

Sharpcut Designers contested the disqualification, arguing it was a technicality, and appealed to the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) in April 2024.

However, the board dismissed their appeal in May, claiming it was filed outside the designated timeframe.

The company then approached the High Court, seeking to prevent KPLC from finalizing the contract with Credible Technical Works Limited, the awarded bidder.

Justice Jairus Ngaah issued a temporary injunction, effectively placing the project on hold until the court reaches a final verdict.

The order states, "An order of prohibition is hereby granted prohibiting the 1st interested party (KPLC) from entering into contract with the 2nd interested party (Credible Technical Works Limited) for the supply of emergency restoration towers (ERTs) and galvanised steel structures..."

Sharpcut Designers argued that the PPARB's decision was flawed due to its reliance on email communication.

"The respondent's (PPARB) decision was based on the fact that email communication is instantaneous and therefore the applicant is deemed to have received the notification of the award on 27 March 2024," Sharpcut claimed.

This suggests that the timeframe for appealing the disqualification might not have been accurately calculated, potentially impacting their eligibility to appeal.

The court case highlights the importance of clear communication and strict adherence to established procurement procedures in Kenya.

The final court decision will determine whether Sharpcut Designers' disqualification was justified and whether the PPARB's dismissal of their appeal followed proper procedure.

ERTs are temporary solutions designed to bypass existing power lines, expediting the restoration of electricity during outages.

Given their critical role in minimizing downtime, the court's intervention holds significant weight.

This ruling will ultimately determine who will be awarded the crucial contract for repairing power lines and ensuring the continued functionality of Kenya's electricity grid.