IEBC expresses fears over power outages in Marsabit

Joseph Mukewa

Marsabit County IEBC Returning Officer Joseph Mukewa handing over electoral equipment to one of his officers on August 1,2022. The electoral agency expressed fear that power outages could undermine the election exercise.

Photo credit: Jacob Walter I Nation Media Group

For the last four days, constant power outages have paralysed business operations in Marsabit town and electoral agency officials now fear the August 9 elections might also be affected.

Power blackouts could undermine the credibility of the elections, Joseph Mukewa, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) county returning officer, told reporters on Monday.

“We fear that the unreliable operations and power supply of the power utility could potentially result in an interruption in the upcoming August 9 polls,” Mr Mukewa said.

He said he was keeping Kenya Power officers in the county on their toes.

Mr Mukewa was worried that blackouts and delays in transmitting voting data could affect the credibility of votes.

IEBC officers in the county found themselves unable to charge their BVR kits ahead of the August 9 polls because there was no electricity.
Even though they had procured enough power banks for emergencies, the agency still heavily relies on electricity from Kenya Power.

Meanwhile, the IEBC has also put adequate measures in place to ensure there is internet connection to allow them to transmit election results from remote corners of the vast border county.

Standby helicopters have also been outsourced to aid the ferrying of ballot papers.

Marsabit County has 448 polling stations, each with a presiding officer and a deputy. There are also six polling clerks per station and one queuing clerk per polling centre.

There are 169,912 registered voters in the county.

Mr Mukewa assured voters that elections would be transparent and fair. He added that security had also been beefed up.

Though Marsabit County hosts the largest wind power plant in Africa, 100 percent of its energy comes from generators.

Kenya Power Marketing Officer Jasper Ogeto decried the high cost of supplying the county with power from generators, saying the firm spends Sh300 million every financial year.

Recent power outages in Marsabit resulted from the breakdown of one generator.

Another generator broke down a few months ago and was grounded, meaning the utility firm was relying on only one generator.

Mr Ogeto said a team had been dispatched from Nairobi to repair the generator.

“We ask the residents to bear with us as we repair the generator that broke down forcing all businesses to close and plunging the entire town and its environs into total darkness,” Mr Ogeto appealed.

Marsabit will be connected to the national grid in March to November 2023.

Mr Ogeto said that once all power lines are connected from the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, outages will end across Marsabit.
 

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