Malindi and Watamu lose electricity as power switch station floods


The entire stretch of coast from Malindi to Watamu and beyond towards Kilifi was plunged into darkness yesterday, when torrential rains caused a power substation in Kilifi to flood, before it had to be taken off the grid to prevent damaging the equipment in the switch room. Resort operators and restaurants, already reeling from the current low occupancies, which extended from the election period – after a series of rash anti travel advisories told visitors to stay away from Kenya – to the current low season, were less than amused that they had to run generators to keep their hotels powered up, at a substantial cost considering that there are no tax or excise rebates when fueling privately owned generators.

The power station reportedly started to flood on Sunday night but was switched off on Monday morning, when the extent of damage became apparent. Kenya Power, already struggling with the worst spell of negative public opinion in years due to the large number of power outages experienced by businesses and domestic users, was quoted by local media in Nairobi as attempting to pump water out of the station and trying to secure it from further flooding, but by the time of uploading this article power was still off.

Kenya has of late been pounded with torrential rains leading to several rivers bursting their banks and causing large scale displacements of rural communities, though flooding has also struck Nairobi, Mombasa and other key towns across the country. A number of deaths have been recorded as a result of flash floods and subsequent accidents, a situation repeated in Uganda too, where over the weekend the western Ugandan town of Kasese experienced the worst flash floods in recent history, also claiming several lives. In Rwanda was a key road from Kigali to Musanze cut off by a landslide after days of torrential rain and while a detour has now been opened up, authorities are vigilant to monitor areas where there is potential for more damage.

Reservoirs of hydro power plants are either full or filling up fast during this rainy season, unlike in recent years when the rains failed, but the prospect of yet more heavy rains has agriculture experts worried about the current crop season being washed out, while tourism operators expressed concern over roads to and inside the parks becoming impassable. Climate change at work? Surely the evidence is mounting as extreme weather conditions, alternating between droughts and flooding, keep visiting upon Eastern Africa now in rapid succession.