Vandals dim Kenya Power’s Sh5 billion city lights project

Sunday May 12 2019

 Joyce Gandani

Chief Magistrate Joyce Gandani at Kibera Law Courts on September 28, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Kenya Power has spent more than Sh5.5 billion in installation of street lights in Nairobi alone.

But as the firm makes sure that all areas within the city are lit, vandals are reversing the gains by stealing transformers, street lamps and wires, among other items.

According to the company’s security manager, Mr Mohamed Mmaka, in the current financial year, vandals made away with 73 transformers valued at Sh20m.

The loss, according to Mr Mmaka, include material cost of transformers, loss of sales and incidental costs.

And the previous year, he said, the company lost some 100 transformers costing Sh24m, while a year before, some 133 transformers were vandalised.

Although the trend appears to be reducing, thanks to a number of measures put in place by the company, vandals are still on the prowl.

Recently, a Kibera court slapped a father of one a three-year jail term, after pleading guilty to vandalising street lights.

Kennedy Amollo Odhiambo, described by the prosecutor as a repeat offender, was arrested with three LED street lamps. The lamps were valued at Sh390,000.

When he was questioned by police, he led them to a house in Dagoretti where 10 other lamps were recovered.

He had been found guilty of a similar offence last year and was put on probation for six months.

Sole breadwinner

In mitigation, Odhiambo pleaded before Chief Magistrate Joyce Gandani that he was the family’s sole breadwinner and father of a three-month-old baby.

He also claimed that he supported his ailing mother who resides in Mathare area and a younger sister. But Ms Gandani dismissed his mitigation.

Although cases have reduced over the years, vandalism of transformers, conductors and other power line accessories is still being reported, according to Kenya Power.

Other than the case before the Kibera court, three other incidents of street lights vandalism were reported to security officials this financial year, whose cost is Sh837,000, according to Kenya Power. The cases were reported in Kirigu area within Dagoretti and Thome.

Kenya Power said it has been conducting joint operations with Interpol to kill the market for copper windings, both within and across the border. Further, the company has employed technical measures like ring fencing of transmission lines in vulnerable areas. “We also conducting awareness, sensitisation meetings and public barazas with locals to volunteer information about vandalism.