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Courts help Kenya power bring down theft of transformers

Molo Sub County has registered the highest number of vandalism incidents of Kenya Power Company’s installations in Nakuru, the power distributor’s Central Rift Regional Manager Engineer Kipkemoi Kibias has revealed.
Terming the situation as of grave concern Engineer Kibias said vandals are making it hard for the power utility firm to help make the county a 24-hour economy.
Speaking in Molo Sub-County when the County Development Implementation Coordination Committee (CDICC) inspected various state funded projects Eng. Kibias said vandals were targeting street lights, transformers, bulbs and other electric parts for sale to unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.
The Regional Manager however said cases of vandalism had significantly dropped after Kenya Power stepped up efforts to combat destruction of its infrastructure through cooperation with police and other investigative agencies.
“We will not relent on the war against vandalism, illegal power connections and other crimes that undermine the quality of power supply to our customers and pose danger to electricity consumers. In the past one year courts have been convicting suspects found guilty of vandalizing Kenya Power installations to sentences ranging from 10 to 30 years.
This has been a boost to our operations to stamp out these vices. We urge the public to report any suspicious activities to our offices or nearest police stations,” he said.
Last week Kenya Power acting general manager for Network Management and Infrastructure Development, David Mwaniki said the company incurred losses of Sh60 million in seven months after criminals vandalised street lights countrywide.

Statistics from Kenya Power indicate that vandalism, meter tampering and power theft through illegal connections are costing the company Sh500 million in losses every year.
Engineer Kibias said that those vandalizing street lighting and transformers were rolling back the gains made through the Last Mile connectivity programme.
He however hailed police for increased arrests of suspected vandals and the courts for handing out deterrent sentences to convicted offenders.
“For the economy to grow and create more opportunities people need to continue working day and night. That is the reason behind installation of street lights in all urban centres. Criminals who have been frustrating this strategy must be tamed,” said Kibias.
Kenya Power’s Security Services Manager Major (Retired) Geoffrey Kigen indicated in a statement that the company has sustained surveillance on the network through countrywide operations to crackdown on vandalism and illegal connections.
‘‘The number of transformers vandalized reduced from 222 in the year 2017 to 133 in 2018. In addition to inconveniencing customers, theft of transformers negatively impacts on the Company’s revenues as it reduces electricity sales and increases the cost of replacing the assets.
Stiff custodial sentences now being handed out by courts to vandals should serve as a warning to the public that interfering with the power distribution system is a crime punishable under the law,” stated Major (Rtd) Kigen
Engineer Kibias observed that replacing a vandalized transformer costs between Sh200, 000 to over Sh1 million and when other expenses are factored in the cost escalates.
Occasioned by rising demand for copper wires in the market and whose price is quite attractive, vandals have risked their lives to rip transformers from high voltage transmission lines.
The toxic transformer oil which is allegedly sold to crooked food vendors is also largely targeted.
By Anne Mwale

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