The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has launched a probe into the nationwide blackout on Tuesday, January 11 that resulted from the collapse of an electricity tower at Kiambere-Embakasi in Nairobi.
An initial inquiry by Kenya Power, known as KPLC in its NSE ticker, had blamed the collapse of the four electricity towers on vandalism by scrap metal dealers, which they added had weakened the heavy metal structures.
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The utility provider had explained that the vandals had significantly chipped away at the pylons’ steel structures, leading to their collapse which consequently cut off the power supply to millions of Kenyans.
It added that the vandals originated from the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums from where they slowly plucked off the metal towers especially in the dead of night to sell them to scrap metal dealers.
“Our investigations indicate that the Kiambere – Embakasi power line collapsed due to vandalism of support bracings in four transmission towers near Imara Daima Estate in Nairobi,” Kenya Power said in a statement as reported by the Nation.
DCI boss George Kinoti explained that his officers had taken the incident into consideration, which occurred in the Imara Daima area. However, he did not rule out any eventuality pending investigations to establish the probable cause behind their collapse.
“We can’t rule out anything until investigations establish the probable cause. We have many investigations on Kenya Power. So many including those in court that sent almost entire management to court,” Kinoti said.
The vandalism claim raises concern regarding how secure some of Kenya’s major power transmission lines are, owing to their importance to the nation’s economy and security.
Kenya Power added that it was working with security agencies to prevent their towers from being vandalised to reduce outages resulting from their collapse.
Kenyans had initially reported power outages in some parts of the country, but the utility provider deemed them as fake. On Friday, January 7, reports of power blackouts in parts of Nairobi, Rift Valley, and Western and South Nyanza hit the airwaves, with an initial statement pointing to a technical hitch in its supply chain, with two of its major supply lines affected by the hitch, leading to the blackouts.
However, the power company was left with an egg on its face following the collapse of an electricity tower at 10.45 am that day, plunging the country into one of the worst blackouts in history. To be specific, the power line links the city to the Kiambere hydroelectric dam, which is considered a major artery to Kenya’s power supply.
By 5 pm, Kenya Power had managed to restore power to all parts of the country, except in Garissa, Mwingi and Kitui, which were reconnected by 6 pm. However, another hitch- the second in one day, was reported, caused by a fault in the Suswa transmission line resulting in outages in parts of Nairobi, Syokimau, Athi River, Kitengela and Mlolongo.
“We have identified the technical fault on the Suswa – Embakasi high voltage transmission line that tripped electricity, cutting supply to parts of Nairobi yesterday (Tuesday) evening
“Engineers from the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) are on-site to repair the line and pave way for the restoration of normal power supply by 5 pm this evening,” said the power company in a statement on Wednesday, January 12.
KETRACO then reported experiencing a delay in the restoration of the power line, but Kenya Power assured that normal electricity supply would resume as soon as the team completed the repairs.