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Local leaders feud over Turkwel power plant



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A row is brewing over operations of the Turkwel hydro-power plant in West Pokot, with claims that it’s not benefiting locals.

Governor John Lonyangapuo (right) and Energy Chief Administrative Secretary Simon Kachapin have clashed over operations of the power plant.

Local leaders argue that despite power being produced in the area, there is no stable electricity supply.

They have alleged that residents affected during the construction of the plant in 1986 were not compensated. They also accused the plant of failing to offer corporate social responsibility.

The project first stalled eight years ago after the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) management suspended some of its services due to bandit attacks.

The company moved a section of its staff that is now operating from Kitale town due to insecurity.

Speaking at Kapenguria Hospital while launching refrigerators distributed to health centres in the county last week, Prof Lonyangapuo threatened to close the plant if the government will not intervene.

Prof Lonyangapuo said he will write to the Ministry of Energy demanding electricity supply or else he stops operations of the power plant.

“I will close the power plant till the President comes here to give us electricity. There is no electricity in this county. Those moving around cheating locals that they are supplying electricity are lying. There is no way you can keep a cow and someone else milks it. This is an insult,” lamented Prof Lonyangapuo.

He accused the Ministry of Energy and Kenya Power of cheating locals that there is power in the county.

But Mr Kachapin said KenGen will soon resume operations at Turkwel and support various community development projects along the corridor.

He said the neighbouring Pokot and Turkana communities have been engaged in protracted armed raids that have impacted negatively on their livelihoods.

He observed that for the last five years peace and harmony has prevailed in the area thus making the company to move in and initiate projects that had stalled due to insecurity.

“Now that there is peace in the region, the power company will carry out corporate social responsibility in the area to uplift the lives of people within the power generating plant,” said Mr Kachapin.

He added that the technical team will be sent to the ground to ascertain the amount of funds needed for the renovation of various structures that were destroyed at the power plant.

The CAS said all employees of KenGen who had moved away from the area due to insecurity will returned to Turkwel.

“We are aware that many structures and equipment were vandalised during the time of insecurity and they require a large amount of money. The ministry will send a technical team to access the extent of destruction and the amount required for repair or renovation,” said Mr Kachapin.