In 2018, lawyer Apollo Mboya rose as the champion to over 900,000 homes that had been oppressed by Kenya Power through over-billing.
He filed a case in the High Court on behalf of the consumers, a case that was set to be a pacesetter in the energy sector.
In his submissions backed by evidence from consumers, Kenya Power, the ministry of energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission, Mboya sought to obtain justice to Kenyans who had been overbilled by Kenya Power.
In his submissions, Mboya sought to prove that billing by Kenya Power in most instances was guesswork and was not accurate. In fact, the cabinet secretary for energy Charles Keter admitted to the practice, and on January 31, 2018, told parliament that it would stop.
Several consumers came out to tell how they had been exploited. In an affidavit, Beatrice Meso, Kenya Power company secretary said that the errors were not brought about by the new Integrated Customer Management System (InCMS), meaning that they were instigated by crooks at the company.
Here is Mboya’s affidavit:-
It was also discovered that the billing system automatically generated a disconnection fee even before the customer was disconnected.
By the fact that the error had affected over 900,000 homes, which ERC admitted, showed that it was systemic and widespread, as opposed to Meso’s claims that it was not.
Mboya’s case sought a forensic audit that would expose the rot at Kenya Power where bills for most Kenyas increased significantly as of December 2017. The rise was not explained, and only those who complained had their bills reviewed downwards by Kenya Power.
The extortion could only be attributed to a Ksh10.1 billion amount stated on Kenya Power’s 2017 financial statement as recoverable fuel costs.
Consumers were also being exploited by firms that had been contracted by Kenya Power to collect revenues on its behalf. The two firms, Vendit and Dynamo Digital Ltd were overcharging Kenyans on top of commissions they were getting.
Kenya Power has gone ahead to advocate for paybills of the two companies, instead of instituting its own paybill number.
It was even discovered that all the wind and solar power plants only existed on paper. Kenya Power, ERC ang the government and blocked the projects, even as investors turned to private partners.
On this, Mboya went ahead and tapped in the expertise of James Palmina of Giston Energy to push the case ahead. Palmina is an American lawyer of Kenyan origin, who left Kenya due to threats and hurdles as he investigated the energy sector in Kenya.
However, things started changing in June 2018, when more consumers wanted to be enjoined in the case. He started snubbing meetings, and texts of his partners, Jerotich Seii and Eva Mutua in the cases started going unanswered.
On October 22, 2018, the case was hastily brought to a close with orders for the parties in the case to reach a consensus.
“PET 6, which deals with overbilling, vendor cartels, monopoly, etc was consented to & hastily shut down by the sitting judge on Oct 23 2018. We seek to reopen these cases because they were closed using orders that have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PUBLIC INTEREST. We were mocked by the SC for not enjoining earlier when I repeatedly asked him as the PET 6 lawyer. He ignored Eva Mutua and I,” tweeted one of the lawyers in the case, Ms Seii
It is also suspected that Mboya, in collusion with Kenya Power cartels in Petition 59 of the case. In the case of the petition, Gitson Energy sought to enjoin on November 7, 2018. It was ignored by Apollo, SC Oraro & the rest. One week later, the case was closed using consent orders – disobeying the Judge’s order to consult.
Seii says that she, among other lawyers will reopen the case, which was allegedly closes after money exchanged hands.
Most Kenyans felt betrayed by the decision by the lawyer to settle stating that the consent did not address the original prayers. They felt betrayed as the Kenyan people still bore the burden on account of over billing by Kenya Power.
“All we want is a fair hearing & pray that our newly assigned judges give this to us. We want justice. We want our refunds. Please believe that we will not betray you,” she concludes.