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Pre-paid meters move sparks fury

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – Kenya Power got a barrage of complaints from the public on Tuesday after notifying customers it would recover 30 units that were advanced to them for prepaid meters.

The firm had sent text messages to customers saying: “Dear customer, please note that the 30 units that the prepaid meter was installed with will be recovered as from today.”

Later in the day, the firm sent a statement saying it would recover the monies would be recovered gradually in the subsequent purchase of tokens.

“The recovery will involve deducting 20pc of every purchase of future tokens to the 30 units at the rates that were prevailing at the time the units were advanced,” Kenya Power Communications Officer Kevin Sang told Capital Business.

“If for instance you make five purchases per month with the first token valued at Sh300, we will deduct 20 percent from the Sh300 and recover the remainder in subsequent purchases,” Sang explained.

Asked why they were reclaiming their money after nearly two years of implementing the project, the officer said their first priority was to connect their customers and ensure there were no glitches.

He however admitted that the firm did inform their clients that the 30 units was an advance token which would be recovered at a later date.

The announcement kicked up a furious storm on social media with many customers complaining that the move was unfair as no notice was given.

However, Sang said they had been considerate and would base the amount, which ranges from Sh400 to Sh650, on the prevailing rate when the meters were being installed.

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“What of tenants who only inherited meters from previous occupants and never enjoyed the installation units?” asked Allan Odhiambo on Twitter.

The official explained that such tenants would have to get in touch with the landlords in order to figure out how to repay the tokens.

“They can also come to our offices and we will listen to them and work out the way forward,” he added.

Kenya Power begun the rollout of the project in March 2011 after a successful pilot project, an exercise which has so far seen some 100, 000 customers out of its 1.8 million clients connected to the new meters.

The project was characterised by hitches such as faulty meters but Kenya Power assures that these problems have since been resolved.

The decision to implement the new meters was informed by the need by the utility firm to reduce the risk of consumer default and consequently boost its cash flows.

The firm plans to connect approximately 500,000 new customers to the new meters by 2015.

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