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Light at the end of rationing tunnel

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17- The government on Wednesday announced that power rationing in Nairobi might end in September following the installation of 50 more megawatts of diesel at the Embakasi power plant. 

While delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament, Energy Assistant Minister Maalim Mohammed explained that the city would receive a boost in electricity production after the installation was completed saying that it would increase the plant’s capacity to 110 megawatts.

He however noted that there was still need for prudent water management in the hydro power dams to sustain the energy production boost.

Mr Mohammed added that power supply in Western Kenya would also improve in the long run, after 80 megawatts of diesel are installed at the Muhoroni power plant.

“To help facilitate the provision of additional power to western Kenya a 220Kv double circuit transmission line from Olkaria to Kisumu will also be commissioned by 2015,” he said.

He was however put to task by MPs who wanted him to explain why the government was still focusing on hydro power generation as opposed to geothermal power generation.

The MPs wanted Mr Mohammed to explain why his ministry had asked for Sh45 billion on behalf of KenGen to be used for hydro power generation instead of funding geothermal production.

“Mr Speaker, the joke in the world is that when you are flying you can tell where Africa is because of the darkness you see at night. When is the minister going to ensure that the cheaper source of energy, that is geothermal is developed to be the real thing because he is still looking for hydro,” quipped Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi MP).

Mr Mohammed also found himself in the hot seat when he insisted that KenGen was a government parastatal. The MPs however maintained that the institution was a private company which did not deserve to be financed by public scoffers.

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Kisumu Town MP Shakeel Shabir also claimed that KenGen had irregularly paid out Sh372.5 million to a non existent company in Iceland for the procurement of technological products.

“We have found out that that company is a skeleton company owned by some shrewd businessmen in Kenya and they are working with a Norwegian company which gave turbines that don’t work yet they have been given another contract for more turbines,” he alleged.

Mr Mohammed however maintained that he was not aware of the allegation.

The MPs also called on the government to make available Sh1.3 billion to bail out the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA), which is embroiled in debts, and ensure its survival.

The government also announced that the price of sugar would continue increasing as the country’s demand surpassed supply.

Agriculture Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki explained that local sugar production stood at 520 metric tonnes per annum while the demand was 720 metric tonnes.

Although he added that the government had no short term plan to cushion Kenyans against the rising costs, Mr Mbiuki said the government supported the Price Control Bill.

 The. Ministry of Water and Irrigation was also put to task by the MPs over its damming projects across the country.

Members from the coast accused the government of sidelining them in the setting up of dams and demanded to know how many large dams had so far been set up.

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However water Assistant Minister Ferdinand Waititu explained that the government was facing hurdles in accessing land for setting up dams. He also observed that funding for the damming projects was inadequate.  

“Funding is a problem and so we have to prioritise. We also had to relocate a dam, that was earmarked for Nandi, to Turkana because we cannot access land,” he said.

Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa further took the government to task over its plan to construct a dam between Kimilili and Lugari constituencies which he claimed would displace 40,000 people.

“This has caused uproar in this area so is this part of the master plan and were the area residents consulted?” he asked.

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