EDITORIAL: Power failures worrying

Kenya Power technician
A Kenya Power technician at work. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It is an open secret that faulty transformers have for years been a significant cause of electricity blackouts countrywide. For the most instances, Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC and the Rural Electrification Authority have borne the blame for the power failures.

That an audit has now revealed that the problem of faulty transformers permeates all the way to the apex of the power distribution system — the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) – is unsettling and is a wakeup call that the country cannot continue on such a path.

Power blackouts tend to impede critical businesses and disrupt the economy across all sectors. In rural areas it is not uncommon for electricity blackouts caused by transformer hitches to go on unattended for extended periods of time.

But power failures are not just troubling: the consequent irregular supply is quite costly for businesses and the expenses are passed on to the taxpayer in the form of expensive manufactured goods. Besides, the inflated cost of maintaining the problematic transformers is an unnecessary burden to the taxpayer.

In sum, the Ketraco audit points to a potential Sh6 billion loss through inflated tender and wasteful expenditures. While the company has denied many of the audit queries in the scandal, the fact that it admits to incurring exorbitant repair costs points to a need for further independent investigations.

In all likelihood, there is more than meets the eye, and it should be pursued.