A former high-ranking official at Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has shed light on what caused the recent nationwide blackouts, which resulted in financial losses running into millions of shillings as businesses were disrupted.
During an interview, Eng. Sammy Muita, a former Chief Manager in charge of Energy Transmission at KPLC, stated that most parts of the country were plunged into darkness on Tuesday, January 11, because the four power towers that collapsed in Imara Daima, Embakasi were part of a double circuit system.
Asked to explain why some people’s power was restored even though the lines were still being repaired, Muita revealed that if one circuit is lost, the system can still be sustained. However, when both are down, it can’t.”If you lose one circuit, the power swings to the rest of the system and it still holds. That is what is called the n-1 reliability criteria. But if two collapse, you can’t sustain the rest of the system because there is no infrastructure that can be built with such redundancy of n-2.
“In the same way, if you shut one eye, you can still see with the other one. That is how the system is built,” Muita explained.
According to him, most people around Nairobi went without electricity since the power from the hydro system could not be fed into Southern and Northern parts of the city.
Further, Muita observed that the government may spend up to Ksh30 million to fully restore the power but denied claims that Kenya Power staff were behind the outage.
“I think we can rule out sabotage because if it was the case, then you would find the disconnected parts on the ground. This is a matter of vandalism, people go and sell those parts as scrap metals. Some steel manufacturers buy from these people,” he argued.
Muita noted that scrap metal dealers easily get away with vandalism as the market is not regulated and people take advantage of the fact that it is impossible to guard the power transmission lines that cover over 4,000 Kms.
Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i, led a high-level meeting for two consecutive days to unravel the mystery behind the power outages that are now a major concern for Kenyans.
Matiang’i, flanked by his Energy counterpart, Amb Monica Juma, put to task Kenya Power board officials over the matter.
The meeting was also attended by Kenya Power board chair, Vivienne Yeda, National Intelligence Service boss, Philip Kameru, and Deputy Inspector General of Police, Noor Gabow.
The team called for speedy investigations into the matter as some areas went without power for prolonged hours.
In less than one month, the country has experienced three major power outages caused by collapsed power transmission lines.