Kenya Power officials keen to frustrate reforms put on notice

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i.

By: Yvonne Atieno  @MountKenyaTimes

The government has fired a warning shot at top Kenya Power managers accused of frustrating ongoing reforms at the power utility firm.

Interior and Coordination of National Government secretary Fred Matiang’i yesterday warned unnamed officials who after the steering committee on implementation of the report on the Presidential Task Force on Review of Power Purchase Agreements complained that the officials were unwilling to cooperate with them.

Speaking during the inauguration of the committee tasked to implement the report’s recommendation, the CS said that the government is keen to streamline and bring greater efficiencies in the manner Kenya power works.

“In the coming days you will see significant changes in the sector and in the cost of fuel and power. We want to streamline and bring greater efficiencies in the manner in which these organizations work. It becomes necessary to do this so that we address strategic objectives in developing our country in ensuring that we address the challenges such as the high cost of living in the country,” he said.

The Committee appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and chaired by John Ngumi, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Kenya Pipeline, is expected to submit its report by December 2021.

Last week, the State declared Kenya power a ‘Special Project’ and an inter-ministerial committee was formed to run a fresh audit on its supply and demand needs, as well as pricing policies.

A security team drawn from various agencies was established to support the reform committee in executing its agenda.

Its membership will also draw from, among others, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Central Bank’s Financial Reporting Centre, and the Assets Recovery Agency.

Matiangi cautioned that managers who will be found subverting proposed reforms will be sacked, arrested and prosecuted for “criminal sabotage.”

The CS maintained that the government is committed to reduce the cost of power in the country that has been blamed on the mismanagement at the utility firm.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma who inaugurated the committee assured that reforms in the energy sector will bear substantial fruits.

“We have gone through the roadmap of that implementation, and I am satisfied that we are going to deliver on the strategic guidance of the President. All stakeholders are on board and the Ministry will take the lead in making sure that this implementation is done and the effect of it is felt by the Kenyan citizens,” she said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta formed a Cabinet Sub Committee in February to assess the running of KPLC with the aim of, among other things, coming up with solutions to permanently address the high cost of fuel in the country.

In March, the Head of State set up the taskforce to review the power purchase following widespread concerns about high electricity bills.

Late last month, the State House released a statement announcing the handing in of the report of a taskforce appointed to review power purchase agreements, which promised that the lower tariff will be implemented before the end of December.

The 33 percent cut in electricity prices is expected to bring the average cost of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) to Sh16 from the current Sh24 unit.

President Kenyatta also ordered the cancellation of all ongoing and incomplete power purchase agreements being negotiated with the State distributor.

On the same day, the head of State replaced Charles Keter with Monica Juma as Cabinet Secretary for Energy. Dr Juma has been in charge of the Defence docket.

The State aims to attract foreign direct investments and promote industrial growth, which has been hampered by the high cost of power.

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