Nairobi News

General

Power outages huge concern for city businesses

Hard questions are emerging over Kenya Power’s ability to consistently handle Nairobi’s electricity needs after a second major blackout in less than six months plunged the capital into darkness for more than eight hours.

While power had been restored to most city areas by 9am, small businesses that had no backup generators lost revenue with hotels, hospitals and other major installations incurring considerable costs in powering their buildings.

Kenya Power head of Communications Migwi Theuri said could not give a definite answer on the question of whether the capital would remain vulnerable to the prolonged blackouts. This means that the reliability of power supply is not assured.

“It’s a grid that is interconnected so if one area is affected, it disrupts the system,” he said. This leaves unanswered, the question of how specific areas can be isolated and protected when the grid fails.

Nairobi is particularly sensitive to power disruption which affect hundreds of thousands of businesses, including industries that lose production time. The county accounts for over half of Kenya’s economic output.

Yesterday’s outage is said to have occurred after a fault on the line between Olkaria sub-station and Nairobi North sub-station which caused a supply-demand mismatch triggering a shutdown.

Crime risk

In May, a similar outage on the same line lasted six hours; plunging the city into darkness and putting at risk patients in hospitals that had no backup generators. Crime risk is also higher when power goes out for long hours.

Simon Ithae of Kenyatta National Hospital said  they had resorted to emergency generators to power the critical areas such as operating theatres, maternity and Intensive Care Unit.