DCI arrests top Kenya Power staff over outage

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022 00:00 | By

Ten senior officials of Kenya Power including the General manager in charge of the network Raphael Ndolo were yesterday arrested on suspicion of negligence and sabotaging electricity supply that affected most parts of the country last week.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti had last week directed detectives from the Serious Crime Unit (SCU) to grill senior officials charged with securing high voltage lines and transmission from the national grid.

Investigations revealed that a joint task force by Kenya Power and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) had on December 8 furnished the board with a report that, among other things, recommended that the basement of angle towers of Kenya Power’s high voltage power lines in Embakasi had been vandalised and the cross beams unbolted.

The probe established that a few days after Rosemary Oduor was appointed Kenya Power managing director, she on August 10 last year wrote to the board indicating that some materials had to be bought for maintenance of the power lines.

“The board was again informed on December 8, but no action was taken. Had action been taken, there would not have been the collapse,” a senior detective said.

The information was, however, ignored and the board failed to approve funds for the maintenance, leading to the collapse that caused a major power outage which was restored several hours later.

Detectives have visited the scene and established that the basement of the angle towers of Kenya Power high voltage power lines had been vandalised and the cross beams unbolted and removed.

“The angle towers had been vandalised and bracings could not support the weight of the conductors which are very heavy. Other towers failed to sustain the weight and also caved in,” the DCI said.

Despite the site having been classified as a “red spot” that required full time surveillance, there were no patrols in the area, leading to the theft.
The theft was reported at the ICD police post and photos of the vandalised towers were shared with the Kenya Power management.

On Monday, detectives raided Stima Plaza, Kenya Power headquarters, and carted away computers and other documentation to retrieve internal memos to establish reports that there was prior communication about the vandalism.

Among the officials who have been grilled include the chief engineer, network management officials and the chief security officer. Others are engineers George Korir, David Mutiso and Julius Mwaniki of transmission, security officer Geoffrey Kigen, and a Kithusia.

In another incident yesterday, six towers along the Olkaria-Kisumu power line were vandalised in Naivasha.

Energy Principal Secretary Gordon Kihalangwa yesterday toured the affected parts, with preliminary investigations pointing to sabotage.

The Naivasha incident comes barely a week after the Kiambere-Embakasi line incident. Last Wednesday, the country was plunged into darkness following the collapse of a high voltage power line mast.

The resulting countrywide power outage saw crucial services disrupted resulting in losses running into hundreds of millions.

Ordinary Kenyans and small businesses who operate without back-up generators saw perishable goods going to waste while casual labourers were sent home due to the outage.

And although health providers reverted to using generators to run their services, they complained of running up unexpected operation bills after being forced to buy diesel to enable them to preserve vaccines.

Counties affected included Kisii, Lamu and Kisumu, the latter which recently installed a 300KV generator worth Sh8 million.

Collapsed masts

Kenya Power (KP) attributed the blackout to the collapse of masts supporting a high voltage power line connection to the Kiambere hydroelectric dam.

“We have lost power supply due to the collapsed tower on the Kiambere-Embakasi high voltage transmission power line at 10.45 am this morning,” KP said in a statement.

In November 2019,Kenya Power sacked nine managers in a clear-out meant to rid the firm of managers perceived to have been involved in corrupt dealings.

Those relieved were General Managers heading the Business Strategy, Connectivity Implementation, Corporate Affairs and Company Secretary; Human Resource and Administration, ICT, Network Management and Infrastructure Development;

Customer Service and Regional Coordination, Street Lighting, Finance, and Supply Chain, a position held by former chief executive Benard Ngugi for 10 years prior to his appointment as CEO. Ngugi has since retired.

“These positions are on contractual terms for a period of four (4) years and renewable for a further four (4) year term (s) based on performance and requirements,”

Deloitte stated in a press advert posted in the local dailies. KP is 50.1 per cent owned by the government and listed on the Nairobi Securities
Exchange. For over 10 years, it has been dodged by governance issues

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