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Economy

Kenya asks Spain to pick firm over stalled power line

Workers fix a street light on an power pole in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. file photo | nmg
Workers fix a street light on an power pole in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. file photo | nmg  

Kenya has asked Spain to nominate a new firm to complete the much delayed Lake Turkana Wind transmission after it terminated an earlier contract awarded to a debt-ridden Spanish contractor.

Energy secretary Charles Keter said because the power line is funded by the Spanish government, Nairobi has asked Madrid to scout for a new contractor to complete works on the 428-kilometre high-voltage line started by Isolux — which in July filed for bankruptcy in Spain.

“We have asked Spain for a shortlist of competent companies. The project is tied to a Spanish contractor given the credit is from the Spanish government,” said Mr Keter in an interview.

“We expect to hear from them on Monday and chart the way forward,” he said.

The total cost of the Loiyangalani-Suswa line power line is €142 million (Sh15.7 billion). The line will evacuate electricity from the 300-megawatt Lake Turkana Wind Power, billed Africa’s largest wind farm.

Isolux last week moved to court to challenge the contract termination notice dated August 14 from the Kenya Transmission Company (Ketraco), which is overseeing the project.

The government is racing to jump-start works on the project beleaguered by multiple headwinds, and avoid paying a monthly fine of Sh700 million for failure to complete the transmission line in time with the Lake Turkana wind farm.

Only 70 per cent of works had been completed by the time Kenya pulled the plug on Isolux last week. The Madrid-based firm bagged the tender for the power line in 2011 and Isolux was initially to complete the job by end of 2013.

However, debt and liquidity challenges at Isolux parent firm greatly affected delivery of the line, which saw the firm miss a revised completion date of October 2016. This forced Kenyan taxpayers in March this year to bail out the cash-strapped Isolux.

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