Nakuru chief uses savings to connect 72 families to power

Koskei held 45 peace meetings to avert post-election violence in his cosmopolitan county in 2007-08.

In Summary
  • For eight years, a transformer has  been idle despite a  whole village being  in  darkness.
  • Nakuru chief texted Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter seeking help and he agreed.
Chief John Koskei who used his savings to pay for electricity connections for 72 households.
HERO: Chief John Koskei who used his savings to pay for electricity connections for 72 households.

Not all public servants serve the people, especially with their own money.

A senior chief in Nakuru county, however, has won accolades for using his savings to connect 72 residents to electricity in a remote area near his homestead in Wasegas, Subukia subcounty.

The 58-year-old father of eight saved part of his salary and spent Sh35,000 on electricity.

The government has admitted it can’t achieve its much-trumpeted Last Mile Connectivity of 100 per cent this year.

Assistant commissioner Joyce Onduso said chief John Koskei was not only organised but his location, despite being remote, was steadily developing into a model location.

She urged other chiefs to emulate him, he's also a trained social worker with a diploma in sustainable agriculture .

For many years, the residents of Ogilge village in Subukia constituency have been in the dark. They gave up on government promises of power and light.

Koskei told the Star on Wednesday though the location benefited from the rural electrification programme eight years ago, most villagers couldn’t afford to connect to the Tachasis dispensary where the transformer was located.

For eight years the transformer was virtually idle and the village in pitch dark. He decided to save money from his salary and change lives in his village.

"With a desire to help my neighbours, I went ahead by myself to pay Sh35,000 to Kenya Power for electricity connections,” he said.

Even after paying cash, Koskei said, Kenya Power was slow to act.

He had an idea: He’d send a text to Energy CS Charles Keter. He’d ever met him but he looked up his number and texted him about his people’s problems and his own frustration.

To his amazement, the CS responded quickly, promising to help.

Ongoing Electricity Connection at Weseges, Nakuru county.
POWER AT LAST: Ongoing Electricity Connection at Weseges, Nakuru county.

"A few days after texting the CS, he said he would follow up,” Koskei said.

He was surprised to get a call from Kenya Power Central Rift regional manager Geoffrey Muli asking for details of his area. A surveyor was immediately dispatched.

“As we speak, electricity connections to 72 homesteads are ongoing,” the chief said.

“Despite my having to use my own money, the brightness and palpable excitement among my people has uplifted me because I gave voluntarily,” he said.

“When Kenya Power came, they asked if I wanted the rest of my neighbours to benefit and I said yes,” Koskei said.

Before he was employed as assistant chief in 2007, Koskei was a social worker for Catholic Diocese of Nakuru.

"Throughout my life, I have invested in serving humanity and especially serving the needy wherever I go," he said

The father of eight attributes his acts of generosity to biblical teachings and his past work for the NGO Oxfam and the Catholic Church.

At Oxfam he trained trainers in peace building and community-based health care services. He also mobilised women’s groups to harvest rain water using tanks on their roofs. Six hundred tanks were built in the entire Mbogoini division.

He climbed the ranks.

“In this life, we can only count our blessings by being good to people and serving them as if you are serving God,” he said.

Three years after he was employed as an assistant chief, he was promoted to be chief and then senior chief.

During the national post-election violence of 2007-2008, he held 45 peace meetings in his cosmopolitan area of Kikuyus, Kalenjins, Kambas and Kisii. There was no violence in his area.

The holder of a certificate in social work and a diploma in sustainable agriculture from Baraka Agricultural College says he is close to retirement.

He plans to spend the rest of his life helping needy people.

Koskei said he finds it hard to balance his administrative duties such as fighting illicit liquor and social ills with serving people with compassion.

“My work as a chief is not easy because it involves fighting unsocial behavior and illicit brew among people I also feel I should help overcome life’s difficulties.”

Assistant county commissioner Onduso said the chief’s activities have helped transform the area into a development hub.

Nakuru has had at least one other outstanding chiefs. Two years ago, chief Francis Kariuki from Umoja Lanet got global recognition for using Twitter to fight crime.

Koskei said, “Being a leader does not only mean executing constitutional duties but also holding a vision, being compassionate and leading by example.”

 (Edited by V. Graham)