A plan to resume operations at KenGen's #ticker:KEGN Turkwel plant in West Pokot County after five years may stall before taking off as it becomes the centre of simmering tension between national government and local leaders.
Area Governor John Lonyangapuo and Energy Chief Administrative Secretary Simon Kachapin have clashed over its planned revival in the area.
The rift is centred on whether, according to local leaders, the plant has benefited area locals or not. They argue that despite power being locally produced, there is no electricity in the area hence perennial blackouts witnessed across West Pokot County.
They also accuse the national government of not compensating locals affected during the set up of the power producing plant in 1986 and for not offering corporate social responsibility.
“I will close the power plant till the president comes here to give us electricity. The is no electricity coverage in this County. Those moving around cheating locals that they are giving them electricity are lying...There is no way to keep a cow and someone else is milking it. This is an insult,” lamented Mr Lonyangapuo.
“They are cheating that there is last mile connectivity programme. I saw some inside in the grass thatched house trying to light power and there is none, ” he claimed while citing Kapenguria Referral County Hospital as lacking electricity.
The project hit its first snag eight years ago after Kengen suspended some of its services in the area when armed bandits carried out several deadly attacks.
The company also moved its staff from the area and are now operating from Kitale town.
On his part, Mr Kachapin insists Kengen will resume its operations at Turkwel Hydo–Electric Power Plant and support various community development projects along the Turkwel corridor in the County.
He noted that peace had prevailed in the area thus making it possible for the State-owned firm return to projects that had stalled due to insecurity.
"We are aware that many structures and equipment were vandalised during the time of insecurity and require a large amount of money. The ministry will send a technical team to the ground to access the extend of destruction and amount required for repair or renovation", said Kachapin.
Mr Lonyangapuo, however, says he will write a letter to the Ministry of energy demanding electricity supply in the area or else he paralyses the planned revival.