By Adieri Mulaa
City Hall plunged into darkness for ten days due to huge power bill of Kshs1.5 billion owed to Kenya Power and Lighting Company.
The county government has been relying on an emergency generator to supply power to offices offering essential services, which include the county treasury and office of the governor.
At night however, the situation at City Hall was a nightmare, inviting security questions to the headquarters of the county administration in the capital, with little show of concern by the management.
The generator was only used during the day and switched off at the close of business in the evening. That meant the county headquarters was left in total darkness at night.
City Hall was disconnected from the national grid on Tuesday 23rd November, 2021 because of the outstanding power bill that has remained unpaid for a long time.
The County Secretary and Head of County Public Service, Dr Jairus Musumba admitted to owe the power company the money but said the county was seeking avenues to an amicable solution.
“Kenya Power is demanding Kshs1.5 from us. The amount has accumulated for many years but we want to negotiate for a payment plan”, Dr Musumba told The Times.
On Monday 29th November, 2021 morning, problems at the county headquarters deepened when the generator located at the basement parking failed to function.
Sources at City Hall said the new generator failed to start after water sipped through and damaged a battery following heavy rains that pounded the capital on Sunday night to Monday morning.
Services were disrupted due to the complete power failure which affected use of electronic office equipment and elevators in the stately building. However, some elevators are out of use for lack of maintenance.
City Hall was reconnected back to the national grid on Tuesday 1st December, 2021 evening.
Even though, power disconnection from the national grid has been a common phenomenon at City Hall over accumulated power bills. Early November, there was another disconnection.
Our investigations revealed that for the period the county headquarters was off the national grid, night security guards at City Hall did not have flash lights for surveillance.
Who handles electricity bills at City Hall? No explanation is forthcoming how the power bills could rise to hundreds of millions unattended.
During the reign of mayors in the defunct City Council of Nairobi, up to 2013 when devolved county governments headed by governors came in, there was an officer by the title of City Hall Superintendent.
City Hall Superintendents were senior officers who were in charge of maintenance and security at City Hall. Mr Richard Thuo, was the last officer to hold the position of City Hall Superintendent until he retired in 2013.
Since then, City Hall has had several maintenance and security challenges including incidents vandalism and pilferage.
Back in the day, electricity and water bills were received by City Hall Superintendent for prompt processing to ensure they were paid. A source claimed City Hall power bills were now handled by the city engineer’s sector.