A breakdown at Kenya Power’s main substation on Thursday evening caused a major blackout that affected customers in Nairobi, Coast and Mount Kenya regions.
The electricity distributor said the outage, which occurred around 4:33pm, was caused by a fault at Juja sub-station in Nairobi - the 50-year-old facility where generated power is stepped down before distribution around the country.
Residents of North Rift, Central Rift and West Kenya were however spared the blackout since they are served mainly from Turkwel and Sondu Miriu hydro generators.
“Our technical teams are working to rectify the situation and restore supply to the affected. We highly regret the inconveniences to our customers,” a statement from Kenya Power stated.
Businesses in Nairobi’s city centre went without electricity as the sun set, with many being forced to close shop early or switch on their diesel-powered generators.
The Juja Road substation, which is extremely critical to the national grid, has suffered several breakdowns with the last one being on the morning of October 6, 2015 lasting about two hours.
A few weeks earlier, the facility suffered an outage, plunging the entire city into darkness for hours.
In mid-2011, the same substation broke down leaving Nairobians in darkness and forcing Kenya Power to source electricity from Uganda as technicians worked to restore services.
In 2012, the power distributor announced plans to upgrade the facility, inviting Finish firms to bid for the job.
Early last year, the $24 million (Sh2.44 billion) contract was awarded to Swiss company ABB Power Systems as part of a multibillion- shilling network upgrade planned by the company.