The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) questioned 18 officials at the Kenya Power Company, also known as KPLC in its NSE ticker, over the nationwide blackout on Tuesday, January 11 that resulted from the collapse of an electricity tower in Nairobi.
Among them are five senior officials who were grilled by the detectives after an initial inquiry by the utility provider 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 five senior officials under investigation include Engineer Raphael Ndolo Kimeu, Acting General Manager Network Management; Engineer George Korir Kipkoech, Chief Engineer Transmission countrywide and Major (retired) Geoffrey Kigen Kipkurui.
Also probed was Head of countrywide Management Security Service, Peter Kithusia, Chief Security Officer in charge of Nairobi region and Anthony Gathii Charamba, a technician along Juja Road.
A team of investigators from the Serious Crimes Unit, crime scene investigators and forensic photographic investigators who visited the scene of the collapsed towers in Imara Daima on Thursday, January 13 found that the basement of the angel towers of Kenya Power high voltage power lines was vandalized.
Also found was that the towers had their crossbeams removed and unbolted, a situation that resulted in their collapse. The conductors, known to be very heavy, also collapsed in the process.
A total of four towers collapsed on Tuesday, throwing the country into repeated power blackouts in just one week.
Eng. Sammy Muita, a former Chief Manager in charge of Energy Transmission at KPLC, explained during a Citizen TV interview that the four towers which collapsed had a double power circuit system.
“The towers that have collapsed bear two circuits. One from Kiambaa to Embakasi, the other one from Dandora to Embakasi so it is a W circuit system that collapsed at once. Four towers were vandalized to the point of falling down,”
“In a normal situation if you lose one circuit you should be able to sustain the system since the power swings to the rest of the circuits and it still holds but if two collapses at the same time then you can’t sustain the system,” he said.
DCI boss George Kinoti had 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.
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.