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Clock ticking on cable, power transformer vandals

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By | November 16th 2010

By Jackson Okoth

It is high noon for vandals of telephone lines, fibre optic cables and electricity transformers.

This follows drastic measures taken by several phone operators and power utility firm, Kenya Power and Lighting Company(KPLC) Ltd, to protect their elaborate networks.

"We are seeking stiffer sentences to prevent vandalism on our transformers. Other deterrent measures to be used include installing alarm systems and using non-fuel transformers,"said KPLC Managing Director and chief executive Joseph Njoroge.

The same measures are being pursued by the ministry of Information and Communication. It is reportedly working on a bill that will deter vandals from interfering with telecommunication lines, including fibre optic cables.

"We shall soon be amending the law to enable the courts pass stiffer sentences on those caught cutting fibre optic cables and interfering with other telecommunication lines," said Dr Bitange Ndemo, Information and Communication PS.

The miscellaneous amendment bill, to be presented to the Attorney General before the end of this year, seeks to impose a fine of Sh10 million or a life sentence for vandals.

"Incidences of serious cable cuts have reached crisis levels and that is why we are seeking for stiffer sentences to discourage those involved," said Dr Ndemo.

While previous cable cuts have been attributed to mere acts of theft, those affected say recent incidences appear systematic and could be acts of sabotage by the competition.

"The cost of repairs and loss to business is huge. This is why we need to review the law to deter this activity from going on," said Karuku.

Incidentally, Safaricom has reportedly delayed the planned upgrade of its M-pesa money transfer service due to cable cuts. "

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