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Kisumu County services paralysed after power is cut over Sh5m bill

Former Provincial Commissioner headquarters which is now the office of Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma. (Photo: Collins Oduor/Standard)

Government services have been paralysed after electricity supply to the county headquarters was disconnected over unpaid bills.

Street lights have also been affected as Kenya Power seeks to recover Sh5 million.

Hundreds of residents seeking services at the county offices were turned away because all machines, including computers, use electricity.

Kenya Power county manager Eric Ohaga yesterday said the power would not be reconnect until the bill is paid.

“It is true we have disconnected power to the county headquarters as well as street lights because of unpaid bills. We will only reconnect once the bills have been paid. I cannot discuss the matter further because of client confidentiality,” said Ohaga.

The 17-floor building housing the county headquarters hosts the offices of Governor Jack Ranguma and County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed. The building is also home to a Huduma Centre and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, among other government agencies.

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It is only the Huduma Centre, which has a standby generator, that was able to offer services. An official at the Huduma Centre, who did not wish to be named, said the generator cannot produce enough power to supply the entire building.

A county government employee, who is not allowed to speak to the press, confirmed that all operations requiring the use of computers had been paralysed. Some officers were using their personal laptops.

“We have turned away many people because we were not able to serve them after disconnection of power. Some vital information is stored in the computers,” said the officer.

The VIP elevator, used by the governor and senior county and national government officials, was also not working. The officials have had to use the stairs to get to their officers, some of which are on the ninth and 16th floors.

There has been disagreement between the county and national governments on how to share the cost of water and electricity in the premises.

The county government’s communications director, Mr Denis Onyango, said the devolved unit would not shoulder the entire bill.

He also denied that the county government owes the power company and blamed the disconnection on the other tenants, whom he said had not cleared their share of the bills.

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“The county government only occupies three floors in that building, which we are responsible for. It is only that a problem in one office may affect other floors,” said Onyango.

County Commissioner Maalim said there was a challenge settling the bills because the building uses a single meter.

However, Maalim said his office had engaged the county government on how the bill would be settled and finding a lasting solution.

“We are working on a plan to have separate power meters,” he said.

Elsewhere, three houses were destroyed in Nyalenda A estate after a fire, suspected to have been caused by an electrical fault, broke out.

A fourth house was partially burnt. Mr Peter Oduol, a landlord said, there was an explosion at a nearby electric pole before the fire broke out. No one was injured.

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