Government services at the New Nyanza Regional Headquarters building in Kisumu were on Tuesday hampered after Kenya Power disconnected the premises over a Sh 13 million pending bill.
The building which houses the Regional Commissioner, County Commissioner, Huduma Center, East Africa Community (EAC) agencies and various national government and county government offices remained in darkness as members of the public who turned up for services were turned away.
The lifts were also shut with those seeking services forced to walk all the way to 14th floor after pleas to have the power restored failed. Ablution blocks were also closed since the janitors working at the three wing building were unable to pump water due to lack of electricity.
The National Optic Fiber Backbone (NOFBI) which is powered at the building remained down, shutting all online government services.
Apart from Huduma Center, Immigration offices and the EAC offices which have standby generators, all the other government offices in the building have been affected. The offices which share the same account have not been able to effect payment.
The county government which occupies a number of floors in the building and shoulders the bulk of the bill, has blamed the situation on delays in monthly disbursements from the national Treasury while some heads of national government departments claim that their AIEs were slashed and the item was not captured.
Robert Okindo, a resident who was seeking services at the registrar of births office, expressed displeasure with the situation saying it was embarrassing for the government to fail to pay pending bills.
Okindo said the situation was against the constitution since the large number of Kenyans who turned up to be served were turned away.
“It is unbelievable that both national and county government departments housed here are unable to pay the electricity bill yet we know a lot of money is appropriated for the same,” he said.
He asked Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Fred Matiang’i to take up the matter to ensure that services are not interrupted.
A national government head of department who declined to be named said the huge bill was overwhelming since the allocations received from Nairobi were inadequate to clear it.
“Most of our AIEs were slashed with most of the departments getting between Sh 2, 000 to Sh.10, 000 for electricity. Even if this money is pooled together it cannot clear the bill,” he said.
The officer asked the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Works who manage the building to consider taking over the payment of the bill to ensure that services run uninterrupted.
This is the second time the power service provider is disconnecting the building this year with fears that the stalemate was likely to persist.