MPs demand probe on delays by Kenya Power to issue prepaid meters
MPs are demanding investigations into frequent delays by Kenya Power in connecting customers to pre-paid meters, blaming the hitches on “cartels” at the utility firm.
The lawmakers also want an inquiry into the controversial last-mile connectivity project that was meant to connect rural areas to the national grid.
The development comes after senators alleged that Kenya Power is deliberately using the loophole to overbill its customers.
Nominated Senator Gloria Orwoba said the utility firm has not been transparent when it comes to the application for electricity meters and how long the process should take.
She claimed many customers want to get rid of their postpaid meters but are unable to do so due to waiting lists that take as long as a year.
“Whatever is happening at Kenya Power needs to be investigated. We have clients who have paid huge amounts of money upfront to ensure they get the meters but it has been one story after another,” said Ms Orwoba.
Kenya Power has since last year been experiencing supply hitches for prepaid meters.
The firm had 9.01 million customers as of December last year from 8.91 million in June, a paltry one per cent rise reflecting how the meter shortage has hurt efforts to grow the customer base and sales.
Kenya Power has, however, not made public the number of customers whose connections have been delayed due to the supply hitches.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei wondered why Kenyans should wait for up to a year to get connected to electricity meters.
“There is a big problem at Kenya Power. The longest time a person should wait for a meter or connectivity should not be more than a month,” said Mr Cherargei.
The MPs were reacting to a request for a statement from Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu, who wanted the Senate’s Energy Committee to inquire about measures put in place by Kenya Power to ensure residents with electricity connections acquire their meter numbers promptly.
Last Mile project status
The senator also wanted the utility firm to come clean on interventions and long-term plans put in place to ensure electricity connectivity for all the residents in his county.
“We want to know the status of the last mile project in Murang’a County, measures to revive and complete the project and why pre-paid meters supplied to residents have accumulated unpaid electricity bills,” he said.
The State-owned electricity company last month issued a Sh2 billion tender for the supply of single-phase and three-phase postpaid and prepaid smart meters in a deal that Kenya Power announced will be restricted to an undisclosed number of local manufacturers.
On the issue of last-mile connectivity, Nominated Senator Beatrice Oyomo termed the project “one of the worst rip-offs ever” in the country.
She explained that the project was meant to connect each village to the national grid, only for implementers of the project to supply transformers with missing components.
“This was a scandal. The transformers have not been optimised because they have a component missing which is why they are not working. We want a report covering the entire country,” she said.
Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said Kenya Power must tell Kenyans the number of transformers distributed and how many people have been reached.
“The transformers are sub-standard and have to be switched off when it rains. In some instances, you get a transformer serving only one person yet other residents don’t have power. In Laikipia, we are living in darkness,” he said. Elgeyo Marakwet Senator William Kisang said Kenya Power must now give a status report on the project.
“We have some counties in northern Kenya like Marsabit and Turkana, which generate electricity but locals don’t have power and live in perpetual darkness,” said Mr Kisang.