Kenya Power now blames Mombasa County govt for outage at Coast General

Coast General hospital

A patient walks outside the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital in Mombasa County on March 7, 2023. Ms Mercy Masambaga and Mr Julius Kimeli claim that Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital (CGTRH) and Port Reitz hospital in Mombasa were professionally negligent in how they provided health services to Ms Masambaga in respect to the birth of the couple’s baby.

Photo credit: Winnie Atieno | Nation Media Group

Kenya Power has explained why the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital this week suffered a power outage leaving the lives of 30 patients at the Intensive Care Unit and 60 infants inside the incubators of the facility’s newborn unit at risk.

In a statement, Kenya Power said the electricity supply to Mombasa County offices and Kongwea market was disconnected on March 6, due to a pending bill of Sh120 million owed by the county government.

The company added that on March 7, a line supplying power to the hospital and its environs tripped but after restoration, the hospital remained without supply because of faulty equipment that resulted from a flashover on the unit supplying electricity to the hospital.

“This situation was not rectified immediately, as our team could not access the site because the Mombasa County officials impounded our vehicles following the disconnections that had been done on Monday. After several attempts, power was successfully restored to the hospital on the same day at 7:15pm,” Kenya Power added in a statement.

The company said protection of life was its top priority.

“Kenya Power regrets this incident and takes this opportunity to apologise to the hospital for any inconvenience caused,” added the firm.

Sh10 million debt

On Tuesday, Mombasa County Chief of Staff, Noah Akala, said the disconnection was due to a Sh10 million debt but, Kenya Power’s Coast Regional Manager, Mr Hicks Waswa, said it was a "breakdown" adding that the supplier was working to fix the problem.

Coast General is the largest referral hospital in the region, with a bed capacity of at least 700, and serves Kwale, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Mombasa and Tana River counties, offering specialised medical services.

Dr Iqbal Khandwala, the hospital’s chief administrator, said it was difficult for the medical facility to operate without electricity, forcing medics to postpone 15 operations for cancer as well as brain and laparoscopic surgeries.

“This is a busy hospital as we have eight theatres. In the morning we were to conduct at least 42 to 64 operations, but in the middle of surgery, the power went off. Power tripped my oxygen generator and switched off the oxygen supply for a couple of minutes during surgeries. We received an alert from the theatre. Cutting power is a wrong move,” said Dr Khandwala.

The Mombasa County Assembly said it was seeking a censure motion against the company for risking the lives of patients at the ICU.

MCAs accused the official of risking the lives of hundreds of patients from the region, who depend on the hospital for specialised treatment.