No traveller was in danger during JKIA blackout – CS Kipchumba Murkomen
Last night, the nation found itself in the grips of a widespread blackout that affected critical government facilities, including the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
In response, Kipchumba Murkomen, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, issued a sincere apology to all travelers and airport users who experienced disruptions due to the power outage.
“I wish to issue an unreserved apology to all travelers and airport users who were affected in one way or the other by the power disruption at JKIA,” Murkomen stated.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, August 26, Murkomen emphasised that despite the regrettable incident, there was no cause for alarm regarding the safety of incoming and outgoing flights, as well as passengers.
He affirmed that the airport’s backup generator swiftly illuminated the runway and control tower, ensuring an uninterrupted flow of operations.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the incident though regrettable did not pose any danger to our incoming and outgoing flights and passengers considering that the backup generator lighting the runway and control tower was seamlessly deployed when the blackout occurred and at no time did we have an iota of darkness on the runway and the tower,” Murkomen addressed the media.
Acknowledging the challenges that the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has faced in recent years, Murkomen commended the efforts of the new Board of Directors in reorganizing the institution.
He underscored the importance of transitioning from a demoralized and disorganized workforce to a more structured and permanent team. The ongoing hiring process for permanent staff is set to conclude within the next two weeks.
In response to the mishaps and challenges that have plagued KAA, Murkomen highlighted key changes that have been implemented with the consultation of the Board of Directors:
1. Termination of Alex Gitari’s contract as Managing Director of KAA, with Henry Ogoye, Head of Corporate Planning, stepping in as the Acting Managing Director.
2. Termination of Fred Odawo’s contract as General Manager Project and Engineering Services, and the appointment of Eng. Samuel Mwochache in an acting capacity.
3. Reassignment of several Airport Managers to enhance operational efficiency across different airports.
These changes, effective immediately, are part of a broader effort to transform KAA’s management structure.
Murkomen assured the public that the incident has prompted a proactive approach to prevent its recurrence.
“I assure the country and the world that we have taken measures to enhance the capacity of technical experts in the engineering department to ensure this incident does not recur,” he said.
The proposed measures include:
- Immediate commissioning of two generators acquired more than two years ago to ensure consistent power supply.
- Focus on enhancing staff attitude, mentorship, and motivation to boost productivity.
- Investment in the development of technical experts within the engineering department to prevent future incidents.
On August 25, 2023, Kenya Power issued a statement in response to a country-wide blackout that commenced on Friday, at 10 pm.
The company attributed the blackout to a system disturbance that resulted in a loss of power supply across various regions.
“We are working in collaboration with teams from all involved sector partners to facilitate speedy restoration of power supply in the shortest time possible,” Kenya Power said in a statement.
The nationwide blackout lasted for about 15 hours.