Lamu terror prone village plunged into darkness

KPLC workers conducting a routine check. |file

Lamu, KENYA: The Lamu-Somalia border area of Kiunga in Lamu East has remained plunged in the darkness for the past one week due to the mechanical breakdown of generating sets of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company-KPLC in the region.

Over 300 households have been affected by a total blackout.

The company, however, insists that they are working tirelessly to restore electricity soonest in the border area.

In a statement issued to the media on Thursday, Lamu County KPLC Business Manager Bernard Kataka acknowledged that power supply in the border area has been unstable for a week now.

He, however, said his office had placed a distress emergency order for the critical replacement of parts of the generating sets from their Nairobi office and that the delivery was expected to be made within the next 72 hours.

Kataka said the frequent mechanical breakdown of the generators was due to the fact that the Kiunga Off-Grid power station is served by two sets that initially been lying idle for over five years without any serviceable activity.

“The KPLC here received the two generating sets by the Rural Electrification Authority-REA. Unfortunately, they had been idle and without service for five years and that’s why they are giving us a headache, but we have already ordered replacement parts from Nairobi which should be here in two or three days after which we shall restore power in Kiunga,” said Kataka.

Another KPLC official who refused to be named revealed that of the two sets donated by REA, one had, infact, failed to function since the date of commissioning and had remained inactive ever since.

He said the situation had forced the Kiunga Power station to only run on one generating set with no provision for redundancy.

“Usually its almost impossible to run an Off-Grid power station like Kiunga on only one set but that’s exactly what has been happening since the other failed to function. It has been a case of overloading the circuit plus no redundancy caution.This was bound to happen,”he said.

However the county KPLC boss opined that the Off-Grid power stations like Kiunga are only financed by the Ministry of Energy through REA as part of the rural electrification initiative and that as such, their role as KPLC is limited to generation, supply distribution, and maintenance.

“In a case like this, new sets would have been the solution so as to put a stop to the frequent breakdowns and station outages but then, as KPLC we hare helpless since that’s the mandate of REA. But bearing our mandate of maintaining high-quality electricity supply to all Kenyans, we are making all possible efforts to restore power in Kiunga as soon as practically possible,” said Kataka.

Locals and traders in Kiunga have reported incurring huge losses after many of their refrigerated products turned stale due to the lack of power.

Omar Kupi, a trader in the area said they were considering pursuing the KPLC for compensation of all losses incurred.

Kiunga village has been on the spotlight over the past few years due to security vehicles driving into IED’s planted by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.

In August . 6  KDF soldiers lost their lives after their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb.