8 June 2018

Kenya: City Hall Now Fights Back After Power Cut

City Hall has been plunged into darkness after Kenya Power cut off electricity because of accrued bills.

For the third day running, Nairobi City County has used generators to power its operations. The electricity supplier on Tuesday cut off power to City Hall over unpaid bills amounting to Sh990 million.

The utility firm says it has disconnected only two of the more than 5,500 accounts that belong to City Hall after it failed to respond to requests to pay or provide any proposal for payment of the accrued bills.

"The Nairobi City County Government has for several years been indebted to Kenya Power and has consistently failed to repay, despite various meetings and agreements between the two parties," read a statement from the company.

The firm said it took the action after the High Court on May 16 dismissed a case filed by the county against it over a Sh543 million bill that City Hall was disputing and that had accumulated for a period up to September 2016.

This is in addition to a Sh447 million debt accrued between September 1, 2016 and April 31, 2018.

'BAD FAITH'

County Secretary Peter Kariuki termed the disconnection "an act of bad faith", saying that the county and the electricity supplier had formed a joint task force to look into the exact amounts owed on either side.

He said a team from the county on Wednesday reached out to the company to find an amicable solution to the matter but the management insisted that the county pay some money first before talks resume and electricity is reconnected.

"We have responded by reminding them of the over Sh800 million they owe us but as a gesture of good faith, we have offered to pay Sh15 million now and the balance in realistic installments until the figure finally agreed upon is settled," he said.

Mr Kariuki said that of the Sh990 million debt claimed by Kenya Power, the county disputes Sh543 million.

He added that Kenya Power owes the county more than Sh806 million in rates and wayleave for the company's distribution network, with some of the debts outstanding since 1990.

Mr Kariuki called for a debt swap between the two sides as a way of resolving the dispute.

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