Caption: President Uhuru Kenyatta with Kenya Power MD Ben Chumo at Chumo son’s wedding . The corrupt Chumo has looted KPLC to the ground but nothing can be done to him because he is Uhuru’s friend. They are partners in crime.
Recently we have zeroed in on institutional-stupidity by Government officials as being the root-cause of the country’s problems. For instance, we noted that Muhammad Swazuri has been running a cartel that steals land, making Kenya unattractive to bother local and international investors. Indeed, the Land Commission is an unnecessary baggage that parliament brought on us, in their characteristic simple-mind modus operandi of thinking every problem in Kenya will be solved by legislation and constituting a commission.
Kenya remains unattractive to investors also largely in part due to the high power costs. Kenya Power, a monopoly run by thieves who grossly inflate power prices, has consistently failed to rise to the occasion and read the mood of the nation and readjust power tariffs. Because what is the cost of producing hydroelectric/geothermal power, other than the one-off cost of turbine acquisition?
Instead of idiots like Ben Chumo trying to undo the damage that was caused by the thievery of Julie Gichuru’s father-in-law Samuel Gichuru, he is an extension of the stupidity that ran the country during the Moi-era. For instance Chumo was handed this report over a year ago, and he is yet to implement it, for fear that it will curtail the loopholes he exploits to embezzle funds.
Kenya is run by a bunch of retards in nearly every sector, who cannot do the right thing for the sake of posterity.
CONDITIONS OF FIELD EMPLOYEES OF KENYA POWER: CASE IN POINT; METER READERS AND DISCONNECTION TEAMS
The challenges that customer service employees undergo in the field of their duties is massive. The shocking part is that many of the supervisors don’t tend to see them as genuine and all the blame is usually directed to the members of the team. Most Field Technicians feel they are not fully engaged in the performance of the company. Engaged employees form the heartbeat of the company which increases the productivity, profitability and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism. More so to mention, customer service is the pillar that bring to life Kenya Power.
Managers who focus on their employee’s strengths can practically eliminate active disengagement and double the average of workers engaged nationwide.
The primary aim of this report was to gather employee’s general perception of their job as Kenya Power employees and also to provide an overview to the top management of what really is going on at the core of the company’s operations.
The report also provided an opportunity to collect information about the work experiences and demographic characteristics of the Kenya Power workforce.
This study carried over a long period of time, (2013-2016); with real time field trips and interviews has the explanations and answers on what goes on in this discipline. This documented challenges also tend to explain and observe the reasons why there is poor revenue collection within the organization. If the findings are to be further investigated and resolved, revenue collection would increase by double digits in less than one year.
It is also for this study that I tend to explain to the senior management team the real issues affecting Kenya Power with regards to meter reading department.
The study was conducted without prior notification to the company and without any sponsorship whatsoever to the relevant offices within the organization. It is a study conducted by myself covering the regions of Nairobi, Naivasha, Kapsabet, Machakos and Kitale on self-sponsorship.
Key Positive Findings
A few strengths were identified including:
•The highest scoring concept was the belief that there will be better contract terms offered by the company among the 3-6 months’ contract employees despite the fact that most of them have had these contracts renewed for the past +6 years.
•Other notable issues were the performance of these members: They keep going; they keep working no matter the conditions and challenges they face in the field and in the Office mainly.
The objectives are:
1. Find and explain ways to Increase two-way communication between supervisors and employees and divert from the norm of one-way communication.
2. Explain ways to Increase efficiency in terms of customer satisfaction and customer relations to employees of Kenya power.
3. Clarify mission, goals, responsibilities, priorities and expectations
4. Identify and note down ways resolve performance problems
5. Recognize quality performance, which in the observations, tend to have been sidelined.
6. Enumerate a basis for administrative decisions such as promotions, succession and strategic planning, and pay for performance.
Scope of the study. This study was limited to the perceptions of full-time employees as to the negative effects that stress has on work performance and the steps that employers are taking to manage them. For the purpose of this study, what constitutes full-time employment is defined by the employer. This study was restricted to employees operating in Nairobi, Naivasha and Kitale areas. Nairobi area encompasses Northern and Southern regions. Naivasha consists of the Naivasha town to regions close to Narok and Juja Road. Kitale area consists of Kitale town, running across Endebess area, Soy Mining, Kapomboi, Kapsitwet, Kobos, Kanyarkwat, Marinda, Kwanza, Maridadi, Namanjalala and Meza areas. For the purpose of this study, conditions and challenges the workforce faces can be termed as “STRESS”, which is defined as disruptive or disquieting influences that negatively affect an individual in the workplace.
Review of Related Literature Barden (2001), a freelance writer specializing in health care and a former managing editor of Commerce and Health, stated the importance of wellness programs and gave specific examples of corporations that are successfully implementing such programs. The Morrison Company currently saves $8.33 for every dollar spent on wellness by offering programs such as weight loss, exercise, and back care. Axon Petroleum estimates that wellness programs will save $1.6 million each year in health care costs for its 650 employees. In addition to Morrison and Axon Petroleum, Barden cited the savings for six other companies. According to the Wellness Bureau of America, the success of these companies offers concrete proof that wellness programs pay off by lowering health care costs, reducing absenteeism, and increasing productivity.
Foster (2002), a professional speaker on stress-management, surveyed mid- level managers and found stress to be a major determinant in worker productivity. According to the study, the primary areas affected by stress are employee morale, absenteeism, and decision making abilities. By recognizing that a problem exists and by addressing the issue, managers can reduce stressful activities and increase worker performance in the business organization.
Harrold and Wayland (2002) reported that increasing stress affects morale, productivity, organizational efficiency, absenteeism, and profitability for both individuals and the organization. The problem for businesses today is knowing how to determine stressful areas in their organizations and how to use constructive confrontation methods to reduce stress and improve efficiency. According to the authors, organizations that make a positive effort to deal with stress not only help build trust among their employees, but also increase the productivity of their employees and the organization as a whole.
Maurer (2002) stated that stress-induced illnesses are prevalent in the workplace today, and stress is the problem of the sufferer and the employer. Stress causes absenteeism and can lead to other problems such as drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, and poor job performance. According to Maurer, the annual Barlow Corporation Forum on Human Resource Issues and Trends reported that large numbers of companies noticed severe levels of stress exhibited by employees. The forum’s panelists agreed that more needed to be done in the workplace to help employees manage stress. Some of the suggestions were to expand wellness programs, offer stress-management seminars, and teach staff how to balance work and family life. Maurer also noted that Olympic TeamTech, a computer management company, has dealt with employee stress by providing training programs, monitoring employee concerns, and meeting once a month to be proactive instead of reactive. Olympic TeamTech’s turnover is less than the industry average.
Schorr (2001), a stress-management consultant, stated that stress causes problems in the workplace which negatively affect employee health and organizational productivity. Stress can lead to problems such as job dissatisfaction, alcoholism, absenteeism, physical ailments, and poor job performance. If managers know how to prevent and cope with stress, productivity can be increased. Many companies instituted stress-management programs that led to a decline in absenteeism, a decrease in sickness and accident costs, and/or an increase in job performance. Schorr reported that a stress inventory, available from a stress management program, can assist executives and managers in assessing employee stress. The inventory can identify the sources of stress, which may include physical elements as well as other factors. Once these sources have been assessed, the program can provide the necessary skills for coping with the problems, and participants can learn that there are alternative ways of reacting to stress.
Methods of the Study
Source of Data for this study were collected using interviews done during interaction in the work area, meaning data collected was first hand from the field.
Sample Selection, the respondents, involved in this report were employees working in stated areas. A nonprobability, convenience sampling technique was used to collect primary data.
Limitations of the Study
This study may be limited through the use of interviews and field trips as a data collection instrument because it is time-consuming.
Also, all programs that may be available to employees for managing stress may not have been included in the study. The study may also be limited by the use of a nonprobability, convenience sampling method. The sample of employees for the study was chosen for convenience and may not be representative of the total population of employees. Care should be taken when generalizing these findings to the entire population.
Further, lack of resources in conducting this survey was key since not all areas of the country are covered in this report. With time and as I gather more information, I will continue providing more reports on the same.
Finally, the use of simple statistical techniques may introduce an element of subjectivity into the interpretation and analysis of the data. All attempts have been made to minimize the effects of these limitations on the study.
Potential constraints on performance before discussing performance, always assess the potential constraints on performance. Some things to look for:
Lack of proper equipment
Inadequate working conditions
Inadequate clerical support
Absenteeism of key personnel
Slowness of action from internal or external sources
Inadequate performance of co-workers on whom individual’s work depends
Inadequate performance of subordinates or managers.
Unclear objectives or performance standards
Inadequate communication within the organization
Pressure from co-workers to limit performance
Lack of authority to get things done.
Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations
Meter reading department in Kenya power forms the backbone of the operations and all authority given to the company. It is this department that keeps the company going in terms of revenue collection.
With it as the cornerstone of the company, it is a department that has to be well managed, properly observed, perfect communication and persistent and continuous positive appraisals. On the contrary, meter readers have traditionally been treated as people with no cause of work or people who don’t deserve the necessary respect from fellow work mates and customers at large.
A few points can be stated below of the frequent psychological and physical torture that meter readers face in the field and office (Stress):
Under staffed/Workload- Meter readers are usually understaffed and they are required to complete works loads of unimaginable proportions. In an occupational setting, dealing with workload can be stressful and serve as a stressor for employees. There are three aspects of workload that can be stressful.
Quantitative workload or overload: Having more work to do than can be accomplished comfortably.
Qualitative workload: Having work that is too difficult. Underload: Having work that fails to use a worker’s skills and abilities. (Bachelors’ degree holders reading meters is an underload.)
As a work demand, workload is also relevant to the job demands-resources model of stress that suggests that jobs are stressful when demands (e.g., workload) exceed the individual’s resources to deal with them.
Sample Cases to point:
Kangundo road, Nairobi South region. The area is vast, semi-arid and lowly populated. A meter reader covers an approximate distance of 3 kilometers between two houses he/she is supposed to take readings from. On average, a single itinerary with approximately 200 meters to be read has to be covered by one-meter reader on foot in a single day. With this figures in play, it becomes impractical for all those readings to be taken. It is either the meter reader has to be out of the place very late in the evening or needs at least 2-3 days to finish the task. The Ruai Office located is supposed to cover the Section from Ruai to slightly past KBC near Kangundo. Believe me, this area is supposed to be covered by only two Individuals. In other words, Only Two people read meters and disconnect this vast coverage. They don’t. Ben Chumo won’t answer to this and quashes any request to have more individuals employed. That whole area, readings are estimated. Wrong bills which Kenyans gladly pay without questioning. Pass by Donholm Station any morning: At the gate you will find people seated waiting for small manual labor from anyone willing to pay them. Interestingly, these individuals are also the ones working as emergency personnel but you would tell because they are always in full Kenya Power gear. Kenya Power teams walk in pairs of two only No matter the kind of jobs they do. This staff have no option but to hire laborers daily to complete a task and pay them from their pockets.
Sexual harassment was noted among many female employees who work on Contractual terms of 3-6 months; that supervisors were demanding sexual favors for employment on Permanent terms. Although Kenya is a country that every criminal will immediately call for proof, these ladies tend to talk about this issue mutedly for fear of victimization and/or intimidation. How do you demand for sex to get one’s employment terms changed? The substitute for this for male individuals is a bribe ranging from 50K-100K. A rampant undertaking this is in those offices of Kenya Power-Both Stima Plaza and Electricity House.
Kayole, Donholm, Umoja and other densely populated estates: these areas are characterized by very huge populations translating to very many meters to be read. On average, a meter reader has to submit in a single day an average of 1000 readings, sometimes 1300. The Trimble Nomad series sets can’t hold that battery capacity to finish this task in a single day.
Site arrival and office departure time-this observation has been made for a period of over two years. The approximate time of departure time from electricity House is 1000Hrs. Average travel time to Kamulu and Joska is 3 hours. This in turn translates to the meter reader starting his/her duties at around midday, works for 2hours and gets picked up again. That is so impractical on efficiency delivery on the part of the meter reader.
Why would the supervisors and the entire managerial team stack team members of the meter reading section in one bus and be delivered to the vast Kangundo road for work? I say this because there are so many vehicles on the car yards staying idle, or those responsible demand for pay offs for one to have a car. This is the sole most reason for in efficiency in the section. The bus has to deliver meter readers to Utawala, it has to deliver teams of the disconnection unit, and it has to deliver teams of two different zones of meter reading to both North region and South region along Kangundo road. Every team member travels several Kilometers inwards to the itinerary which he/she is supposed to work. With this case, you will find that these people arrive on site late into the day and they have to be picked up earlier because they are several members. At the end of the day, members have only worked for 2 hours. This questions how Kenya Power makes losses or profits.
Caption : Compare and Contrast then be the Judge
This is a customer who pays approximately 100K per month. The interesting thing is that, from that bill, he is supposed to pay 62K for a consumption of 3000 units. The interesting bit is that even on his meter, the readings are nowhere close to the previous reading of 68222-They are at 64000.
The aspect of very unruly supervisors who have never stepped foot on site is so discouraging to the meter readers and members of the disconnection unit. Several cases of insult from the supervisors have been reported. Several cases of unjustified prosecution of meter readers.
It should also be noted that highly qualified members of this team should not be in the field meter reading. (Underload as stated above). I have few examples I can sight of individuals having 2nd class Honors Degrees in Electrical Engineering (Power Systems) that wake up daily to go and read meters. Many more examples of Higher Diploma Individuals who do the same. This are highly qualified individuals who the company needs to keep close. I especially question the employment of individuals who never even completed High school education because Kenyans are competitive and I wouldn’t understand why a learned individual cannot read and write. These illiterate fellows are the Supervisors of Highly trained personnel and we wonder why we aren’t seeing any progress as a country. Let’s not wonder why there is so much jobless youth out here Gambling-It is because institutions like Kenya Power are considering “Family first”, or sex first, no matter your credentials.
Harsh climatic conditions- the team operates in conditions that are very harsh. The whole idea of pre-paid meters was corrupted and diverted to business opportunities. I believe the pre-paid metering system was supposed to be placed in areas where it is inaccessible like remote villages and remote areas, but not in township areas like Kayole, Donholm, and Umoja areas. Although the importance of individual differences cannot be ignored, scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions are stressful to most people. Such evidence argues for a greater emphasis on working conditions as the key source of job stress, and for job redesign as a primary prevention strategy.
I have with me examples of Kenya Power staff members who even lack uniform while on duty. Others have their gear torn out, and they swallow their pride and put these gears on to work every day. A simple lab coat is what they lack. I once asked one why they can’t get gear, rather why can’t his coat be replaced and he had no answer for that. He responded to me a few days later that there is no supply from the stores; an answer he was given by his immediate boss. He is having the same, old lab coat he was given when he was employed in 2012. This is now four years since he was given this single lab coat. (I Will send to you Pictures of staff Uniforms today before you publish This-They are in the field)
Illegal connections: have you ever wondered why a whole institution like Kenya Power has failed to curb illegal connections? Despite having armed security teams? It is because the task of reporting illegal connections and/ or tampering cases is tasked with meter readers and not a single day will go by without them finding cases. Apparently these illegal connections are sanctioned by managerial staff sitting in high offices of the institution. I have practical examples of Meter readers coming across these illegal connections and if they report the cases, it turns against them and they are threatened to be sacked. Ask yourself why when there is a fault on a transformer in the Ghettos it is replaced with immediate urgency unlike a fault occurring in a residential estate or industrial estate. Because every downtime of a transformer in the ghetto means that someone (Supervisor, manager etc.) loses money from these individuals. We have examples of ghetto transformers being replaced on a record two hours after fault-And the same ghetto has under 10 registered accounts. How?? Meter readers can’t report this. They will be intimidated and/ or sacked.
With me also are examples of individuals with very high qualifications of degrees in Electrical Engineering, Power Systems, who have been waking up every morning to read meters. There have been internal advertisements of the possible opening of even technicians, which they do apply for, but the selection process is incomprehensible. These individuals feel they are victims of systematic harassment from their immediate bosses. These omissions of a specific set of individuals have created very intimidating and oppressive working environments for such highly qualified professionals. Many of their colleagues with lower qualifications are promoted and are employed on a permanent basis while the said, highly qualified are left out of selection despite the fact they went through the interviews. It’s not fair for them. This is not what a corporate entity like Kenya Power should practice. We need to question why There are frequent blackouts, deadlier that we lose power countrywide. It’s also good to note that many are demoralized in the line of duty, I know of a few who quit without even writing a letter to indicate so, I know of others who are planning to quit before their 6 Months contracts come to an end. This people are not allowed to join the Kenya Power Union or even any Union of employees in Kenya-They are on their Own-They can’t complain of Anything-They can’t report Anything-They can’t access Anything-Not a soft Loan-Nothing-It is criminal to do so and you are immediately sacked. These allegations are true. This Is happening in a monopolist institution in 2016!
Bullying in the workplace can also contribute to stress. This can be broken down into five different categories:
Threat to profession status
Threat to personal status
Isolation/or hostile environments.
Case Example: Many of these individuals complain about this; for example, after a site work, the individual is expected to submit the readings collected, and this is done by use of a computer system. The computers are few, and the available ones are more of personal PCs in the office. These members at times have to leave the offices as late as 10 PM because the “owner” of the PC was on YouTube, Facebook watching music and porn.
Destabilization i.e. lack of credit for work, meaningless tasks, etc. Every meeting that the CEO has with this team is not a meeting: It is an insult to tell them there is nothing they are doing. He repeats this over and over again in every meeting.
This in effect can create a hostile work environment for the employees that, which in turn, can affect their work ethic and contribution to the organization.
Members of the disconnection team are high-ranking officials, who need to be properly appraised to effect tangible service delivery. This team is poorly appraised and or paid regarding their monthly allowances and salary. There is a very simple logic to how they work: They take a lot of bribes in the field during their disconnection endeavors. A salary of Kshs. 15, 000, which he uses to pay for daily bus fare to work, pay rent, eat, school fees and everything. His/her life is anchored on that Kshs.15, 000. By default, he/she will take bribes in the field because the code of ethics has failed all the way from the employer. Many of them complain of the medical allowances they have on their cards. Research also showed that they get a maximum of Kshs. 5,000 as their medical allowances and hospitals that accept these cards are expensive that they can’t even afford a one-off treatment. A list of hospitals circulated by the company shows that a one off treatment costs an excess of Kshs. 8000. You wonder why a pre-loaded card with Kshs. 5000.
Members of the disconnection team, some of them have to buy their equipment like climbing gear.
Members of the disconnection team never complete their monthly allocated jobs because they have to cover very large areas that are impractical.
They operate under very harsh weather conditions. Case in Point, Kitale region: frequent downpour, no vehicles, just a motorbike rendering a vast area inaccessible yet they have to deliver, at least as the supervisors want. Kapsabet was also noted to have the same characteristics. Sampling theorem from the two regions clearly shows that this problem is countrywide. Think of areas like Wajir, Lodwar etc.
It should also be noted that most of the stress levels in meter readers are a shared common to those in the disconnection team.
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