Power meter purchase delay frustrates customers – Business Daily
A prepaid electricity token machine provided by Kenya Power and Lightning Company (KPLC) to homes within in Kasarani, Nairobi county on January 17, 2020. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Delays in procurement of power meters have left new Kenya Power customers facing a wait for connection to the power grid even after paying for connections.
Customers who spoke to Business Daily said they have been kept waiting for the gadgets since March, derailing their businesses and forcing homes to turn to other power sources such as generators and solar panels as a stop-gap measure.
The State-owned power utility admitted to the supply hitches attributing them to delays caused by court cases and pending approval of procurement plans.
The shortage has hampered efforts by the company to widen its customer base and grow sales amid an increasing number of clients shifting to alternative energy sources that are deemed less costly compared to the national grid.
“We have been repairing and refurbishing faulty meters to meet customer demand. Whilst this has helped ameliorate the pressure in the short term, we are now facing a shortage of meters which is affecting our ability to connect new customers,” Kenya Power said.
The firm did not, however, disclose the number of businesses and homes that are yet to be connected due to the shortage of meters. Customers have since last year been complaining of the delayed connections.
Kenya Power is embroiled in legal suits that have derailed a Sh2 billion tender for the purchase of meters after local firms protested what they termed as discriminatory requirements that have locked them out of the lucrative deal.
The company was in June barred from proceeding with the tender by the High Court, pending determination of the matter.
“Kenya Power has experienced a delay in procuring new meters due to a number of cases that have been mounted by various players challenging the meters tender,” the utility firm said.
The local meter assemblers under the Energy Meters Assemblers & Manufacturers Association went to court after the Public Procurement Administrative Review threw out their petition on grounds that it was filed after the lapse of the agreed period.
They lamented that the decision by Kenya Power to invite only international firms for supply of single-phase, three-phase postpaid and prepaid meters was discriminatory.
Local firms, which have been supplying the meters for the past seven years in particular took issue with tender requirements that suppliers in the Sh2 billion tender must have been in practice for a minimum of 15 years.
In the meantime, Kenya Power added 317,296 customers in the six months to December increasing its customer base to 8.59 million and helping lift electricity sales.