Protests after Kenya Power cuts off village in Kirinyaga

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At least 500 families in Karuti village of Kirinyaga County are without electricity after the Kenya Power Company disconnected their homes from its supply.

Following the Sunday morning action, the families took to the streets in protest, accusing the power provider of punishing them for no reason.

Led by the Gichugu MP Gichimu Githinji, the families threatened to sue the power company.

Kenya Power officials, accompanied by armed police officers, descended on the village early morning accusing the residents of illegally connecting electricity to their homes.

They ripped off electric wires, power metres and uprooted poles, leaving the residents in total darkness.

Even churches and business premises as well as tea buying centres were not spared.

The families said power was installed in the village under the national government’s Rural Electrification Programme and denied that they were involved in illegal connections.

“We have been using electricity which was connected to our houses legally in the past four years and we do not understand what the company officials are talking about,” said Mr James Gicobi.

The families said they had been paying electricity bills promptly and demanded to be told why the power utility firm has been accepting the payments if they were illegally connected to the national grid.

“If we had committed a crime the officials would have arrested and prosecuted us but not to disconnect power even in places of worship,” Mr Justus Njoka protested.

The Gichugu MP lamented that the officials took the victims by surprise and started pulling down power lines and poles.

“Those who were using the power were not even given any notice and the matter is very serious,” Mr Githinji said.

He vowed to take up the matter with the Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge and the Kenya Power managing director.

The MP narrated how he visited the village only to find the families complaining of mistreatment by the power firm officials.

“What the company officials have done in this village is unacceptable,” said Mr Githinji.

The Kirinyaga Kenya Power Regional Manager Kiptoo Ruto admitted that his security officials disconnected electricity.

He insisted that some of the company’s employees colluded with unscrupulous contractors and provided illegal power lines to the families.

“We learnt later that our officials and contractors secretly installed power in the village without the knowledge of the KPLC and we are treating the matter with the seriousness it deserves. Those involved will be investigated and legal action taken against them,” he said.

He admitted that the affected families had been paying bills but he was quick to add that the payment was not a guarantee that the deal was genuine.

The families recollected how they were forced to pay thousands of shillings during the installation of power and demanded that they be compensated.

“The KPLC had awarded tenders to the private contractors to install power in our village and we paid for the services. After paying so much money, the KPLC is now turning against us. We must move to court to seek a legal redress,” said Ms Beatrice Wathuyia.

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