Passaris in bid to stop plan to destroy street light project

Monday April 8 2013

City Council workers remove bill

File | NATION City Council workers remove bill boards during a past tussle with Adopt a Light Ltd. The firm is in now in a legal tussle with the Roads ministry. 

By ABIUD OCHIENG’ [email protected]

A Nairobi businesswoman is in a legal tussle with the Ministry of Roads over a planned demolition of a section of her street lighting business.

Ms Esther Passaris, who is also the director of Adopt-a-Light Ltd, on Monday, told High Court judge George Odunga that the ministry planned to destroy a section of her business in disregard of an existing contract.

Adopt-a-Light Ltd installs street lighting, high mast lighting, slum lighting and erects billboards in partnership with local authorities.

Ms Passaris noted that her company entered into a contract with the City Council of Nairobi on March 28, 2012, to advertise on street poles in the metropolis.

Once the contract was reached with the city council, the firm sought approval from the Ministry of Roads to erect billboards in certain locations in Nairobi. This was granted this year on January 7.

“Upon reliance on the contract and the approval given by the ministry, Adopt-a-Light Ltd entered into agreements with various companies for their advertisements to be placed on the street lights and billboards,” Ms Passaris’ lawyer told the court.

She said that on December 17, 2012 the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), an institution affiliated to the ministry, published a notice in the local dailies, with the intention to remove unauthorised billboard and other advertisement structures.

The lawyer said the firm had not at any time exceeded the limits set by the Ministry of Roads.

However, on December 28, 2012 the firm’s management was surprised when some of its billboards were marked for destruction by KeNHA. Attempts to contact the ministry have not yielded meaningful response.

“The firm risks suffering substantial loss since some of its customers will refuse to make payments due to the intended demolition. Potential clients approached will also be reluctant to sign contracts,” the lawyer said.

Ms Passaris is seeking orders to restrain KeNHA from interfering with her business. The ministry has 14 days to respond. The case will be heard on April 24.