Traders demand compensation for blackout losses

Kenya Power technicians repair transmission lines. Photo/File
Kenya Power technicians repair transmission lines. Photo/File 

Traders are demanding compensation for losses incurred during power outages after a transmission failure disrupted economic activities countrywide on Tuesday.

The traders, through the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), said more electricity distribution companies should be licensed to end the monopoly of Kenya Power which many observers blame for the inefficiency.

“The abrupt power outages have caused us to incur massive losses that Kenya Power should compensate,” said Mr Charles Mose, a KNCCI-Uasin Gishu chapter official. He said that manufacturing companies, hotels and the Jua Kali sector were the most affected.

Frequent outages have forced strategic establishments like airports, publishers and hospitals to invest in generators. Kisumu International Airport manager Joseph Okumu said the airport spends Sh2.4 million each month to power generators during blackouts.

“There are so many businesses and security installations here and we cannot afford to be without power.” Mr Okumu said.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce Kisumu chairman Odhiambo Kitoto said that Tuesday’s blackout hurt manufacturers, Jua Kali operators and ICT based stalls that do not have back up supply the most.

Hoteliers in the town said they spend about Sh3 million in back up power every month besides loss of perishable supplies that rely on refrigeration.

“The amount of fuel spent per hotel on generators is 50 litres per day,” said Robinson Anyal. Embu Industries managing director Kaviu Mugo said the company lost more than Sh600,000 on Tuesday during the blackout.

“We make fortified foods worth Sh100,000 per hour and this blackout has made us lose more than Sh500,000 of operations,” said Mr Mugo.

Mt Kenya Business Machineries director Isaiah Kagoce said the business spent Sh4,280 in an hour on generator fuel.

The Embu chapter chairman of commerce and industry, Mr Jonstone Nyaga, said that small businesses were losing markets to bigger players because they could not afford generators.

Eldoret Airport manager Peter Wafula said the facility was increasingly relying on back up power to sustain its operations. Fish traders in Turkana said they incurred frequent losses when coolers suddenly go off.

In a statement to media houses, Kenya Power said the early afternoon blackout which lasted for close to two hours was caused by a faulty line running between Olkaria geothermal centre and Ndenderu sub-station near Nairobi. Kenya last suffered such an outage four years ago.