Outrage as glitch leaves prepaid power users in the dark

Kenya power prepaid meter
Thousands of Kenyans were left without power after a system hitch at electricity distributor Kenya Power saw them unable to access tokens for their prepaid metres for two days.

By late last evening, most customers who had bought tokens using either the utility firm’s pay bill number or any of its third-party vendors were yet to receive their units.

The glitch also affected the firm’s agents that ordinarily sell power units on its behalf.

Kenya Power had advised its customers via a text message to purchase the tokens from its banking halls that are only available in major towns.

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Purchasing through mobile payment systems is faster and easier than queuing in physical outlets.

Corporate Communications Manager Johnstone Turana said the cause of the problem was yet to be established, even as the firm struggled to restore the service. “We have resolved the problem and everything should be working out just fine now, but you can expect some delays due to backlog,” said Mr Turana when contacted for a comment.

Virtual platforms

Many Kenyans opted to vent on social media to express their frustration with the power distributor, wondering how such a technical hitch could last close to 24 hours.

“Yani I have spent the night in darkness, and I’m still in darkness despite having sent my money to Kenya Power early yesterday for prepaid tokens...” tweeted Wahome Thuku.

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Others complained of having sent cash through virtual platforms several times, as the unprecedented wait for generation of the 20-digit code that is fed into the prepaid meters prolonged.

The delays added to an ongoing discourse among ordinary Kenyans on pricing of the electricity tokens, with the firm standing accused of inflating bills.

Kenya Power has denied the accusations.

A complex formula that changes constantly due to the various aspects in pricing, and which is subject to variation, has been blamed for the perceived skewed billing.

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