Ministry of Energy Principal Secretary, Maj General (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa, has put Kenyans with illegal electricity connections on notice.
Dr Kihalangwa says though the Ministry remains committed to reviewing electricity tariffs downwards, the losses occasioned by illegal connections was the main bottle-neck that is slowing down the realisation of the promise by the government to reduce power bills before Christmas.
He said although it is the Ministry’s mandate to reduce the rates, there is need for collaboration between the Ministry and members of the public to curb commercial losses to the power utility by ensuring they vet the technicians who connect them to the mains and report quacks to authorities.
“If you know you do not have a metre make sure you apply for one …If you know that you are illegally connected to electricity, get that rectified because we want to reduce the tariffs so that the cost of power can go down,” Dr Kihalangwa said.
The PS also warned transformer vandals saying that the government will take stern action against the culprits.
Dr Kihalangwa said that by December 10, four transformers had been stolen; two in Kiambu County, one in Homa Bay and another in Migori County.
He said that the government was working on tamper-proofing transformers as a way of reducing the cost of repairs. The current cost of a transformer is estimated to be Sh1 million.
Dr Kihalangwa also cautioned KPLC staff against laxity in their work citing the electric poles that are erected so close to the tarmac at Endarasha shopping centre in Kieni and the tendency by some technicians to leave live wires exposed. He said it was high time KPLC took their work seriously
“The KPLC staff need to be service-oriented people, they have no excuse but to work efficiently and swiftly respond to customer queries since they have all the necessary resources at their disposal,” he said.
“It was unfair for staff to keep their customers waiting for more than 8 hours just because they are hoping to earn some overtime while working at night,” he added.
Kihalangwa was speaking during the launch of a tree planting campaign in Kieni, Nyeri County.
The initiative named Adopt a Forest Initiative Project saw the Ministry of Energy adopt and rehabilitate 150 hectares of Muringato Forest Station.
So far, 112,000 indigenous and exotic tree seedlings accounting for 70 per cent of the targeted area have been planted with the help of the Muringato Community Forest Association.
The Energy Ministry has spent Sh43 million in the 2020/2021 financial year in rehabilitating degraded forests.
In addition to Muringato Forest, the ministry has adopted 107.6 hectares at the Londiani Forest Station in Kericho County.
Kihalangwa said that Kenya was still heavily reliant on hydroelectricity to power the national grid.
He also said that their decision to join the forest rehabilitation initiative was informed by the need to conserve water towers that feed the hydroelectric dams which are also grappling with the reduced water supply.
The PS was accompanied by the Head of Forest Conservation Directorate in the Ministry of Environment, Alfred Gichu, Nyeri County Environment CEC, Frederick Wanjohi, Nyeri County Commissioner, Loyford Kibaara and a host of officials from the various energy and environment agencies .
On his part, the Head of the Forest Conservation Directorate, Alfred Gichu attributed the current effects of climate change to the continuous and indiscriminate destruction of forests.
He challenged the public to take up tree planting as a personal responsibility adding that the presidential directive to attain 10 per cent forest cover cannot be realised by a single Ministry.
“In the past, it was assumed that the work of forest conservation was solely the duty of the Ministry of Environment and its agencies. But if we want to achieve the 10 per cent forest cover, each citizen has to take personal responsibility and plant trees,” said Gichu.
He said that the Environment Ministry will from next year be rolling out a tree seedling nursery Programme that will involve schools, churches and institutions with space and water to help in propagating seedlings which will eventually be used in rehabilitating degraded forest areas.
Gichu urged other government ministries, agencies, county governments and CFAs to work together in planting trees.
Nyeri County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara, said that 61,000 trees have been planted in different homes within Nyeri County as a way of trying to attain the 10 per cent forest cover as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
By Ann Ngure and Wangari Mwangi