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Kenya Power fights to save its reputation in bills dispute

A class action suit against Kenya Power Company for overcharging consumers will come up Monday when the parties are expected to make submissions.

But ahead of the court date, Kenya Power has been pulling out all the stops to delay the case.

The Sunday Nation has learnt that lawyers for the power firm have been trying to reach out to Apollo Mboya, one of the petitioners, along with Electricity Consumers Society of Kenya (ECSK) to agree to delay the submissions to a later date.

Kenya Power had not filed its written submissions more than a month after the petitioners filed theirs as directed by the court.

PR WORK

The petitioners filed their written submissions on March 6 and the court had directed that Kenya Power and the other respondents in the matter, namely the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the Attorney-General, to file theirs seven days after the petitioners did.

Amid this, the company has been pursuing different strategies to deal with a barrage of social media attacks over the bills.

One of the strategies Kenya Power settled on was a public relations charm offensive involving increased presence in the media to try and change the narrative.

This is what informed last week’s press conference at their offices and which was followed by choreographed interview of Managing Director Ken Tarus by State House’s senior director Dennis Itumbi and incorporating the Consumers Federation of Kenya and bloggers.

TOKEN VENDORS

Kenya Power has also been holding what they call media engagements across the country.

One such media engagement for Nairobi on Friday, however, ended up a disappointment after most of the invited guests snubbed the event.

Apparently, despite the investments in that, the strategy seems to have flopped as sustained pressure from Kenyans both online and offline forced the company to admit there are mistakes.

Another strategy Kenya Power has been looking into is to terminate the contracts with third party token vendors Dynamo and Vendit.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Energy, Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge told the team the firm will end contracts with power vendors who currently own 35 per cent of the token purchases.

“In two to three months, the vendors will automatically be kept out of our operations. We will be looking at their contracts with a view to taking advantage of any exit clause,” Mr Njoroge told the senators.

CONSUMERS FRUSTRATED
On this, the Sunday Nation has learnt there has been some initial discussions convened by the Public Private Partnership Unit, which is domiciled under the Treasury, to review the contracts with a view to terminating them and also looking at the impact of the suit currently before High Court Judge Chacha Mwita.

Meanwhile, after four months of denials over the high power bills and delayed, non-responsive and costly token generation, Kenya Power finally admitted that consumers were overcharged and have apologised with a promise they will fix their system in the next two months.

Mr Tarus admitted it has been their fault as they failed to adequately communicate to their customers over the billing system.

“Our apologies, it would appear that we have been mean in our communication over the increase in power bills,” he said.

On Friday, the firm sent a message to its customers which read: “Dear customer, please buy tokens through pay bill No 888880.”

This could be as a result of the recent public outrage.

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