As Kenyans online and across the country crucified Kenya Power on Tuesday, January 11 over the nationwide blackout across the country, one US journalist was suddenly turned into an overnight celebrity as his Twitter profile sent tongues wagging.
Ben Terry, a TV anchor who works for KPLC TV 7 based in Louisiana State, suddenly found himself on the crosshairs of Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) who were demanding Kenya Power to explain what could have led to the frequent blackouts experienced all the way to the middle of this week.
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On the evening hours of Tuesday, his Twitter page began flooding with messages from irate Kenyans marooned in the dark, with the mistaken belief that he was one of the top Kenya Power managers owing to his Twitter handle @BenTerryKPLC.
They urged him to explain what the utility provider was doing to address the problem after two blackouts were reported by the power company in one day.
However, Terry was ready to respond to their queries by merely stating that he was a weather journalist who was delighted to have amassed a number of Kenyan followers on the platform.
“I just gained several Twitter followers from Kenya over the past 24 hours. Just so you know, I am not associated with the KPLC that is Kenya Power and Light Company for future reference. However, I hope you do like weather updates for Southwest Louisiana. Welcome aboard!” he tweeted.
He educated Kenyans by revealing that all TV stations in America west of the Mississippi River normally begin with the letter ‘K’.
“The other letters stand for Port of Lake Charles (PLC). It’s just a coincidence it’s the same acronym as Kenya Power,” he added.
During their numerous engagements with him, one Kenyan asked in typical fashion whether he was looking to buy the company owing to his seemingly close relationship.
“Oh no I wish I could help you but I have no interest in buying a power company,” he responded.
To sympathise with them, Terry revealed that once upon a time he had to go for weeks without power in his state which was hit by a hurricane.
“Our power was out for weeks in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura. Hopefully, it is restored soon in Kenya!” he noted.
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 Kiambere-Embakasi in Nairobi 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.