Kenya Power has been ordered by the High Court to compensate Woolworths Limited over Sh500 million for the 2009 fire that destroyed the Nakumatt Downtown Supermarket on Kenyatta Avenue.

Tragically, the fire claimed 30 lives and caused extensive property damage.

Justice Jacqueline Mong'are attributed the fire to the electricity company's fault.

She stated, "In view of the foregoing and the evidence adduced before this court and in the absence of any other evidence to the contrary, I am satisfied that there is prima facie evidence before this court that Kenya Power is solely responsible for the two fire outbreaks at the suit property."

Woolworths Limited, the owner of the building, successfully argued their case for compensation.

Justice Mong'are awarded the company various sums, including:

  • Sh3,085,600 for lost rent
  • Sh7.4 million for land rent and rates
  • Sh58.5 million for the building's value
  • Sh4 million for property demolition and rehabilitation
  • Sh185,600 for surveyor's fees
  • Sh243,600 for legal fees
  • Sh469,800 for debris removal

These figures include interest accrued since August 13, 2009.

Additionally, the judge awarded general, aggravated, and/or exemplary damages with interest accruing from the judgment date until payment is made in full.

In a notable divergence, the court absolved Nakumatt Holdings Limited and its director, Atul Shah, of any liability in relation to the fire tragedy and ensuing loss of life and property.

The ruling stated that testimonies from Nakumatt Holdings and Shah explained that the fire stemmed from errors in rectifying a fault at a transformer situated near the Nation Centre, after a complaint lodged by Nakumatt Holdings concerning power supply disruption.

"Witnesses from Nakumatt Holdings and Shah testified that the said fire was the result of mistakes made in the process of repairing a fault at transformer No. G1583411 located near the Nation Centre following complaint No. 1675312 by Nakumatt Holdings regarding the interruption of power supply," Justice Mong'are said.

This landmark decision brings a measure of closure to the tragic events of 2009.

While it cannot erase the loss of life, it does hold Kenya Power accountable and provides some financial compensation to Woolworths Limited.

It marks a significant milestone in the quest for accountability and justice following the incident and underscores the imperative for meticulous adherence to safety protocols by all stakeholders, particularly entities entrusted with critical infrastructure, to avert similar catastrophes in the future.