High electricity bills targeted as Kenya Power reforms team begins work

Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i and his Energy counterpart Dr. Monica Juma, preside over the inauguration meeting of the 17-member Kenya Power steering committee at the Kenya School of Government.

The government has put on notice all Kenya Power staffers that will frustrate the reformation of the utility company.

Defiant managers sabotaging the process risk being sacked, while those criminally culpable will be arrested and prosecuted.

This as the journey to reform the troubled electricity distributor kicked off with the inauguration of the 17-member steering committee.

Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’i and his Energy colleague, Dr. Monica Juma, who presided over the inauguration meeting of the 17-member steering committee at the Kenya School of Government also announced the reforms will extend to the review of fuel prices.

“In the coming days, you will notice significant changes in the cost of fuel. We are also targeting significant changes in the cost of power. We are streamlining and bringing about greater efficiency in the manner these organisations work,” Dr Matiang’i said.

A section of the committee members who sat in the taskforce remain sceptical citing unco-operative senior managers frustrating their efforts.

With only six months to implement far reaching reforms at Kenya Power, it will be a contest between the committee and the cartels that have held the power company hostage for years.

“All stakeholders are on board and the Ministry will take lead in making sure the implementation is undertaken timeously and the effects are felt by the Republic of Kenya citizens,” said Dr. Monica Juma.

The committee has been granted a curt blanche to approach the exercise with what has been described as a measure of ruthlessness focussed on bringing the cost down. This underpinning government’s commitment to turn around the power company that has been described as a special government project.

The meeting was also attended by Defence counterpart Eugene Wamalwa, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, Cabinet Administrative Secretaries Zachary Ayieko (Energy) and Nelson Gachuihe (Treasury), Principal Secretary for Energy Gordon Kihalangwa, and Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita.

The taskforce recommended a radical surgery at KPLC’s procurement department that has bled the utility company incurring it massive losses.

The company is said to be holding dead stock worth over Ksh.5 billion,  likely to go into waste. As such it has been recommended for an overhaul of the department with all staff to be replaced and recruitment of new staff undertaken. The old procurement staff are to be redeployed from the department.

In the meantime, KPLC is to outsource procurement to other government agencies that have demonstrated experience in procurement.

To mitigate on its financial haemorrhage, Kenya Power has been advised to renegotiate and restructure commercial debts and where possible convert debt into equity. The board of directors is to oversight the company and provide leadership as well undertake competitive recruitment and hiring of a Chief Executive Officer of the company.

KPLC’s former MD Bernard Ngugi unceremoniously left office at the height of wrangling between the board and management of Kenya Power over control of award of tenders.

Responding to complaints by the KPLC taskforce chairman John Ngumi that senior managers of the company were uncooperative, the CS Matiang’i warned the staff against frustrating the reforms agenda.

“The President has given very firm instructions on what needs to be done at the KPLC. There’s no room for negotiations on whether you’ll work with the Board, the taskforce or the steering committee. That room is not there,” he said.


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