The World Bank has revealed that two Kenyan public utility firms, Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC), are under scrutiny for neglecting to compensate private and community landowners whose property was used for power line passage.
According to the assessment, KPLC compensated some landowners while REREC provided no compensation at all, despite legal requirements mandating payment for land acquisition in medium and low voltage power line passages. The situation has led to disputes among landowners who have received differing treatment from the two organizations.
KPLC has established policies for land buyouts, including the Lands and Right of Way Policy, Property Damage Assessment and Compensation Procedure, and the Wayleave Acquisition Procedure. However, the World Bank found that the company only pays for wayleave when there is a specific budget line for it in a project. When no such budget exists, KPLC seeks donations or consent from affected landowners through Programme Action Plans.
REREC, on the other hand, does not provide any compensation for land acquisition. Both KPLC and REREC fail to compensate for loss or devaluation of land resulting from wayleave restrictions.
This revelation raises concerns for ongoing projects as the Kenyan government pushes to connect more consumers to the national grid. Sections 171 and 173 of the Energy Act stipulate that utility companies must obtain consent from landowners before entering their property and installing infrastructure such as cables, electric poles, or pipelines.
In cases where landowners cannot be immediately identified, the law mandates a 15-day notice period through mass channels, including advertisements in at least two national newspapers or local radio stations.
KPLC has faced multiple lawsuits in recent years over unpaid compensation for land acquisition. In 2020, a High Court awarded a couple KSh40 million after KPLC trespassed on their land without permission. In another case, the High Court awarded Ms. Eunice Nkirote KSh14 million for general damages and continuous trespass when KPLC entered her farm, erected power lines, and installed high voltage wires without her consent.