Kenya: Union Blames Board for Kenya Power Problems

15 September 2021

Some of the Kenya Power directors currently under investigation undermined the top management of the utility firm and overreached on procurement matters, union officials have said.

The assistant-secretary general of the Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) has also accused Kenya Power board members under the radar of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) of going against the Public Procurement Act.

In a media briefing at the union's offices, Mr Ernest Nadome, who is also the general secretary of Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers Union (Ketawu) - which represents Kenya Power workers - said the directors have rendered Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter powerless.

"The CS and the principal secretary of the Energy ministry have no voice. The directors have gone as far as dictating how procurement is done. When there is procurement of any material, they demand for specifications of the tenders before the advertisement is run, yet that is supposed to be confidential," he said.

Public Procurement Act

"This means they are able to share the same with their tenderpreneurs, and it is a breach of Public Procurement Act. They also demand for minutes from the tender evaluation committee. I know one who only awards tenders to Asian and Chinese contractors," he explained.

He lamented that the directors wanted to sabotage the company by allowing a local telco to install smart metres worth Sh31 billion yet the firm had already invested a lot of money running into billions.

Read: Trouble for Kenya Power over Sh1 billion tender requirement

He said the new smart metres that will be operated remotely will render those already installed by Kenya Power obsolete.

"The contract will last for eight years, and they will have to recover the money they spent on installation, yet the metres have a life of five years. This means that after the fifth year, they may need to replace them, and that means they will get more money. Should they not do so, no revenue will come in, then KPLC will fall," said Mr Nadome.

He also lamented that Kenya Power employees are demoralised.

"We are sorry, Kenyans. We are sorry. The problems you are having such as KPLC taking time to restore power, transformers breaking down, us not coming to restore power over the weekends, is a creation of this particular board," he said.

Read also: MPs order to Kenya Power on secret Sh50 billion contracts

He added: "They have refused to provide us with materials, they have refused to provide us with a fleet, the staff are few, and they have refused to allow them to work overtime."

Mr Nadome explained that the management has made four proposals to address these issues, but the board has ignored them.

Special meetings

"Had they not come for the past one year, we would have improved. Instead of four meetings, or a maximum of six including special meetings, as per the Mwongozo code of conduct for board members, those four have had 114 meetings at Stima plaza. That translates to a third of the year in discussions, yet nothing concrete has come out of it," he added.

Mr Nadome said the high turnover of chief executives has also dragged the company down.

Compared to Kengen, which has had only three CEOs in the last 15 years, KPLC has had 10. While Kengen has had only three boards, KPLC has had eight, a factor that Mr Nadome says has contributed to Kengen's stability.

"We fully support the EACC. In fact, we have told our members that they will carry their own cross if they are found engaging in fraud. The government needs to let go of KPLC and let us run our affairs independently. We are giving the government three weeks. If there are no changes in Kenya Power, we will mobilise the employees and ground operations," he concluded.

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