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Power failure leaves Kenya and Uganda in the dark

Kenya Power said it was still working to identify the cause of the fault. Photo | FILE
Kenya Power said it was still working to identify the cause of the fault. Photo | FILE  

Parts of the country were plunged into darkness on Tuesday evening due what was described as a “power system disturbance” by electricity distributor Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC.

In a statement, the utility firm said that it was still working to identify the cause of the fault that it says affected parts of Nairobi and “adjacent areas”.

“Kenya Power engineers are battling to identify the fault and restore power supply as quickly as possible,” the electricity distributor said.

This came following a barrage of complaints from outraged power consumers, many of whom took to social media.

Initially Kenya Power, through its official customer care handle on Twitter, told customers that the main line was off due to a fault.

Later, the company changed tact, saying simply that it was aware of the problem and was working to fix it.

Although Kenya Power only identified Nairobi as being affected by the outage, there were indications that the blackout affected a wider swathe of the country as Nation Media Group (NMG) journalists across Kenya reported blackouts.

The affected areas include Mombasa, Kisumu, Kiambu, Eldoret, Kisii, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Meru, Nyeri, Tharaka -Nithi and Bomet Counties.

Uganda

At the same time, the electricity distributor in Uganda, Umeme Limited #ticker:UMME, reported a similar outage “affecting many areas” and said that its teams were working to immediately restore supplies.

It is not yet clear if the two incidences are connected.



Mombasa City on January 8, 2017 following a major power blackout. Photo | Mohamed Ahmed | NMG
Mombasa City on January 8, 2017 following a major power blackout. Photo | Mohamed Ahmed | NMG

Caught off-guard

Many small businesses across Kenya that rely on electricity were forced to shut down early Tuesday evening while some turned to generators, candles and torches to serve their customers.

“My business usually thrives during the evening hours as that are the time most of my customers gathered at my hotel to watch news and take tea after work. Today I have forced to close earlier than usual due to the power outrage as i could not serve my customers adequately,” said Mr James Kibe, a hotel owner in Nyahururu town.

Evance Omenda of Matrix Barber Shop in Kisumu said the day was a busy one with students being shaved ahead of admissions of school admissions.

“The power blackout has cut short the booming business we were experiencing. There is need to rectify it immediately,” said Mr Omenda.

Hospitals

Services at the Nyahururu County referral hospital however went on as usual as the institution has a back-up generator.

“We have not been that much affected by the power outage that much as the facility has a back-up generator in place. We are offering services as usual,” said a nursing officer at the facility.

The black-out however affected sub-county hospitals in the devolved unit that lack back-up generators.

The power failure also forced the main hospital in Kisumu to rely on its back-up generator.

Dr Juliana Otieno, the CEO of the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital, said her medical team was using the alternative power source as it awaits restoration of services by Kenya Power.

“I have a very powerful generator. I would really suffer before, but now, even my nursery is functional,” she said.

Additional reporting by Rushdie Oudia, Angela Oketch, Benson Amadala, Ruth Mbula and Elisha Otieno

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