DEFAULTED AGREEMENT

Sh1.5 billion debt causes blackout at City Hall

The power cut began on Tuesday and has seen county offices rely on a generator to supply power

In Summary

•This has led to disruption of operations in most county offices located in the two buildings with some closed.

•Staff and those seeking services have been forced to use stairs to access the remaining offices.

Nairobi City County Hall.
Nairobi City County Hall.
Image: FILE

Nairobi county offices have been plunged into darkness after Kenya Power cut the electricity supply to City Hall and City Hall Annex.

The blackout began on Tuesday and has seen county offices rely on a generator to supply power to some sections of the offices.

This has led to disruption of operations in most county offices located in the two buildings with some closed.

Staff and those seeking services have been forced to use stairs to access the remaining offices.

In a statement, Kenya Power said the power was disconnected to facilitate the collection of a pending Sh1.5 billion debt.

Kenya Power said City Hall has defaulted an agreement in which they were to pay a monthly instalment of Sh50 million towards the debt, in addition to its current monthly bills.

This was agreed upon in a meeting held between the county government, Kenya Power and the Ministry of Energy representatives early this year.

The county has since paid two instalments while four and the current bill are outstanding.

However, talks are ongoing between the two to have an amount paid that will see power restored.

“We are in consultation with the county leadership and have shared the necessary information to expedite the collection of the outstanding amount,” the statement reads.

When reached for comment, Nairobi finance chief officer Mohammed Sahal did not respond to short messages and phone calls.

In December last year, the county assembly had allocated Sh200 million to Kenya Power and Lighting Company to clear the electricity arrears.

This was part of the Sh2.51 billion supplementary budget.

This was after City Hall had been plunged into darkness for 10 days over  Sh1.55 billion bill.

However, the national government ordered the power restored and brokered a deal to pay the bill.

Kenya Power and City Hall have been at loggerheads over debt arrears since 2014, with the county government claiming Kenya Power also owes it Sh600 million in wayleave and rent arrears.

The first outage was in January 2015, when City Hall was plunged into darkness for three days after disconnection over an outstanding power supply debt inherited from the defunct City Council.

The county government went to court in 2016 and obtained an order barring the utility firm from disconnecting power to its facilities until the case was heard and determined.

This followed a threat by Kenya Power to cut off the power supply to City Hall Annex, Mama Lucy Hospital, Pumwani Hospital, public primary and nursery schools and county depots and streetlights.

In June 2018, Kenya Power disconnected the supply to City Hall and City Hall Annex for two days, forcing workers to use generators.

This was after the county government lost a court battle to stop the agency from disconnecting the power supply to its facilities.

During the same year, Kenya Power yet again disconnected power to City Hall, City Hall Annex, County Level 4 hospitals and county street lights over the outstanding power bill which stood at Sh748 million at the time.

City Hall had to pay Sh15 million and promised to clear the balance in instalments to have electricity reconnected.

To encounter its frequent power blackouts due to unpaid arrears, City Hall purchased a Sh13 million generator during this financial year (2021-22).

The allocation is part of the Sh128 million that the Anne Kananu-led administration is set to spend this year on different projects to repaint, renovate and rehabilitate the City Hall building. 

The plans which will be actualised this year, are contained in the Nairobi County Annual Development Plan for the financial year ending June 30, 2023.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

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