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Fears of economic sabotage as more power towers vandalised

By Antony Gitonga | Jan 19th 2022 | 3 min read


Engineer repairing one of the six electricity towers along the Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu power line in Kayole estate in Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The Government is not ruling out economic sabotage as more electricity towers along the Olkaria-Kisumu 400kv line were vandalised in Kayole estate in Naivasha.

Unknown people believed to be experts in electrical engineering vandalised connecting plates on six towers, but early detection saved the country from another major blackout. The move comes barely a week after some people vandalised the Kiambere-Embakassi high voltage power line plunging the whole country into darkness.

And as Ketraco engineers worked on the line, the vandals were back again targeting the newly constructed Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu power line that is yet to be officially launched. In the latest incident, the suspect targeted only connecting plates leaving the six towers weak and it was a matter of time before the live high voltage line collapsed on tens of residential houses.

According to the PS for Energy Gordon Kihalangwa, the suspects behind the raid were targeting particular parts of the towers raising fears of economic sabotage.

“Six towers have been vandalised leaving them weak and if it was windy these towers would have clashed causing tens of death, destruction and major power loss to the country,” he said.

He was, however, quick to note that they had launched investigations on whether this was a case of vandalism or economic sabotage.

“We are working with the DCI officers to investigate the latest incident and we cannot rule out either economic sabotage or vandalism,” he said.

Flanked by senior government officers, the PS noted that the initial investigation pointed to an exercise carried out over a period of time before the anomaly was discovered by the maintenance crew. Kihalangwa added that it was still too early to determine the real cause of similar incidents in Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Longonot where the several power towers had clashed. “Works on the Kiambere-Embakassi high voltage is 75 per cent done and we expect to restore power supply to all affected areas by Thursday,” he said.

He noted that the Government was keen on cheaper power as promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta despite the challenges including vandalism.

“There are many theories about the vandalism including fingers pointing at IPPs but we cannot act on rumours but we are confident of getting those involved,” he said.

On his part, KETRACO chairman Joe Mutambo said that the electricity supply was not affected as the vandalism was detected before the towers clashed.

Mutambo called on members of the public to volunteer information on suspicious persons around the power towers terming the Kisumu line as very critical to the country’s economy. “If it was windy the power lines could have collapsed but our officers have acted fast and it’s a matter of time before we nab those involved,” he said.

Area MCA Simon Wanyoike while condemning the issue noted that families affected by the line were never compensated years down the line thus creating enmity. The Lakeview MCA challenged KETRACO to digitalise operations along the power lines so that they could detect any anomaly whenever someone tampered with the electricity supply.

“We cannot rule out vandalism as those involved were targeting particular parts but we also call on KETRACO to compensate affected families so as to remove mistrust that is there,” he said.

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