Kenya Power pulls plug on Sonko’s City Hall over debt

A section of City Hall Annex in Nairobi. The area has been plunged in darkness after Kenya Power cut power supply over debt. [File, Standard]
City hall has been in darkness for the past three days after KPLC cut off power supply over a Sh990 million debt.

This is as the county government proposed a debt swap since KPLC owes City hall sh806 million for way leaves and rates.

On Tuesday, officials from Kenya power and lighting company disconnected electricity to city hall and city hall annexe momentarily disrupting operations and forced the administration to rely on power generators.

The development also came weeks after City hall lost a case prohibiting the power company from disconnecting lights over the debt.

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County secretary, Peter Kariuiki yesterday confirmed that City hall owed a total of Sh990 million to the utility firm but insisted it had disputed Sh543 million.

“We feel that it was in bad faith that Kplc disconnected power because there is a joint taskforce sitting to establish what each organisation owes each other. The taskforce was in the process of concluding and making recommendations,” stated Kariuki.

Out of the 447 million balance, he said, the county government only recognized sh215 million obtained from actual meter readings but expressed reservations with the balance of sh232 million which was based on estimated readings.

 Kariuki consequently suggested that the two institutions should swap their debts in order to address the problem.

“We have no problem paying what we owe. We only request that the taskforce handling the issue be given time to reconcile these of the practical ways to deal with this would be for a debt swap where we net off and the balance paid by whoever’s debt will be larger,” he stated.

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Mr Kariuki revealed that KPLC’s debt to city hall included sh748 million for wayleaves for its distribution networks and installation and another sh68 million for its substations from 1990. They include Accra road Sh2, 030,000, Tom Mboya Street Sh5, 8000,000 city hall basement sh2, 784,000 and Uhuru highway Sh58, 000,000.

Acting Finance County executive, Charles Kerich also revealed that a team from City hall on Wednesday went to KPLC to seek an amicable solution but KPLC was adamant that they pay some money before talks resumed and electricity is connected.

“As a gesture of good faith, and pursuant to our desire to arrive at an amicable solution, we have offered to pay Sh15 million now and the balance in realistic instalments until the figure agreed upon is settled,” said Kerich.

A spot check yesterday revealed that city hall conducted an operation that saw vehicles belonging to KPLC staff and other members of the public for ‘flouting’ parking rules.

Kerich however indicated that it had nothing to do with the cutting of power supply.

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 In 2016, City hall moved to court seeking an order blocking Kenya power from disconnecting electricity supply to its facilities until the case was heard and determined.

Prior to that, the utility company had threatened to disconnect power to crucial facilities such as Pumwani Hospital, city hall annexe, Mama Lucy Hospital and public schools.

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