Power blackout: CS Juma calls for speedy reforms to solve mess

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Kenya Power staff working to restore power supply after high voltage supply lines collapsed.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has called for speedy reforms in the sector to avert power blackouts.

Juma on Thursday said the reforms will play a key role in dealing with persistent blackouts that have left the country in the dark for hours.

She said the proposed reforms that include the 15 per cent reduction in electricity cost would ensure a stable power supply across the country.

On Tuesday this week Kenya Power announced a power supply outage following the collapse of four pylons that serve as the main transmission lines.

A similar disruption was experienced on Wednesday in some parts of Nairobi following a technical fault on the Suswa-Embakasi high voltage transmission power line.

“We have lost power supply due to collapsed towers on the Kiambere-Embakasi highs voltage transmission power line at 10:45 am this morning,” the company said.

Juma said a time has come for all Kenyans, institutions, employees in the energy sector and its partners to rally behind and support the reforms.

“The power outages in the last two days underscore the imperative and urgency of implementing the proposed reforms in our power sector to ensure stable and reliable power supply,” she said.

She added, “The Ministry of Energy is hard at work to ensure that the experience of the last two days does not recur.”

According to Juma, Kenya Power and Ketraco staff worked round the clock to repair the faults and restore power across the country.

Kenya Power has in the last two months been in the spotlight with President Uhuru Kenyatta triggering a purge on its operations and management by appointing a special task force to look into the entire power value chain. The aim of the probe is to clean the power distributor and bring down the cost of power.

Conspiracy theorists have already started speculating that there might be sabotage. There has been no evidence of sabotage.

Kenya power is the sole power distributor, which in some instances, has been making losses.  

Part of the reason for the utility’s dismal financial performance has been poor governance, corruption, inefficiency, wastage, and high cost of power from producers that have not been compensated with an equivalent increase in the tariff they charge consumers.

Perennial power outages have been a uniquely Kenyan story, thanks in part to an old and poorly-maintained electricity infrastructure.

But Juma said together with her Interior counterpart Fred Matiang’I, they have held a meeting to unravel the mystery of the nationwide power outage which occurred between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some of the officials who also attended the meeting are Kenya Power board chair Vivienne Yeda, National Intelligence Service Deputy General Philip Kameru, and Deputy Inspector General Noor Gabow.

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