Restaurants, hotels hit hard by countrywide blackout as owners seek answers

An aerial view of Nairobi's CBD during the second day of KPLC's national power outage on August 26, 2023. [Edward Kiplimo, Stanadrd]

Traders who rely on electricity for their operations are counting heavy losses following the nationwide power outage that lasted for nearly six hours on Friday night.

Owners of entertainment joints, butcheries, hotels, and petrol stations among others said the blackout had affected their businesses especially since it had happened without notice and lasted for hours. 

In Kisumu, a number of bars and nightclubs claimed they were forced to close early after revellers opted to leave their premises because of lack of power.

Businesses like restaurants, hotels, and bars that do not have backup generators had to close shop earlier than usual on a Friday night, while those who sell food registered losses.

Charles Onguko, who runs a bar business in Sagam area in Gem, said he did not make any money because of the power outage as clients chose to stay away.

“Most of the clients usually come on Friday and without a standby generator, it simply means I lost clients. It is very unfair for Kenya Power to put us in this kind of situation,” said Onguko.

Gordon Ochieng, who works in a butchery in Kondele said he was forced to sell the meat he had kept in a freezer as dog food and at a throwaway price after they got spoilt as a result of the blackout.

In Meru County, Stacy Kendi, a worker at a hotel at Gitimbine said they had been inconvenienced by the blackouts which had persisted since Friday evening.

Food preparation

Ms Kendi said the blackout continued until yesterday when they had to scale down a bit of their food preparation that required electricity. 

 In Murang’a County, home to three power generating plants, traders said something should be done to ensure the mess will not be repeated.

In Laikipia County, the blackout caused security panic forcing residents to remain alert.

Jane Kamene said many of the people who slept early did not detect the disruption.

“There are people who never sensed the disruption but it was an experience that should be avoided in the future,” said Kamene.

In Nakuru, Naomi Jemutai, the manager of Africa Fuel - a petrol station - said the blackout caused losses.

“We were greatly affected but resorted to using a generator which again cost a lot. We used 50 litres of diesel even though our sales were down due to fewer customers,” she said.

The filling station used generators from Friday 9 pm to 7 am Saturday.

KPLC engineers maintaining a faulty line. [Courtesy]

Moses Togoch, a meat trader said that he lost about Sh30,000 as his 25kg of meat in the refrigerator spoiled during the blackout.

In North Rift, Paul Wanyonyi, a poultry farmer, shared the plight of local farmers, emphasising that the inability to regulate temperature and lighting in their coops resulted in higher bird mortality rates, decreased egg production, and economic strain.

Additionally, residents of slum areas, like Evans Wafula from Mitume slum, highlighted the security risks exacerbated by prolonged power cuts. 

“There was an attempt of theft by one of the neighbours, but they ran away after the suspects had the owner of the home making a call,” said Wafula.

Joseph Lamai, a butcher, had to revert to analog weighing scales due to the outage, while pharmacist Milcah Rotich highlighted the challenge of maintaining cold storage for certain medications.

However, Kitale Referral Hospital managed to maintain its medical services with the help of standby power generators. Health CEC Pepela Wanjala assured the public that the hospital’s critical functions, including surgeries and infant deliveries, continued to operate smoothly.

In Kapsabet, Jackson Kemboi, one of the club’s managers, claimed that the diesel power generators they had installed were not effective and were forced to close early.

Kapsabet County Referral Hospital relied on the backup generator to salvage the situation as the medical superintendent Ishmael Ayabei confirmed that they did not experience any challenges.

Premium More pain for borrowers as big banks pass on interest rate hike
Ruto challenges youth to be part of change in Africa
By Brian Ngugi 21 hrs ago
Premium Bank bosses face sanctions for forex manipulation in probe
By Brian Ngugi 21 hrs ago
Premium EACC goes after Uhuru men over botched Sh6 billion Telkom sale