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Technical fault plunges country into 5-hour blackout

By Lee Mwiti | June 8th 2016
By Lee Mwiti | June 8th 2016

Kenya was plunged into darkness on Tuesday following a major power-generation hitch at the country's biggest hydro-electricity station. The blackout that started at 11.30am lasted about five hours.

The supply hitch was caused by a technical fault at Gitaru Hydro Station, which is operated by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen).

The fault resulted in loss of generation at the station and subsequent tripping of other sources of power.

The power distributor first broke the news to Kenyans through their Twitter handle, announcing that what had started as a minor hitch while trying to fix a partial outage in parts of Nairobi, flared to affect the rest of the country. 

"Our technical teams have been able to restore supply to the affected areas following the outage that resulted from a fault at the Gitaru Power Station. The country is now back to normal supply," Kenya Power's General Manager for Network Management  Daniel Tare said yesterday after being confronted by loud outbursts from social media, by angry users.

Kenya Power was under intense pressure and started by restoring supply first to Western Kenya, North Rift, Central Rift, Nyanza and parts of Nairobi including Westlands, the Central Business District, Parklands, Ruaraka, and Hurlingham. That is before restoring to the rest of the country.

Two months ago, parliamentarians made last-minute changes to the Energy Bill to force Kenya Power to pay consumers for power outages, especially those outages that last for over three hours within a day.

The amendment to the Energy Bill, 2015 which was sponsored by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Sherrif read in part:"...a licensee shall be liable to compensate a consumer where due to power outages, poor quality, irregularity of electricity supply or negligence, the consumer incurs financial loss; suffers from physical injuries; or any other case."

Mr Sherrif had argued that where a consumer incurs financial loss, Kenya Power shall compensate the consumer by incorporating the compensation into the consumer's bill by way of a subsidy which shall be an amount equivalent to the loss incurred.

Kenya Power has at least 2.6 million customers. It also has a statutory mandate to build and maintain power supply infrastructure in the country.

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