Kenya Power starts raid to curb rampant vandalism in Nyanza

Several people have been arrested in a crackdown conducted by police officers and Kenya Power officials. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Efforts by the government to provide electricity in the South Nyanza region are under threat from saboteurs.

Theft of electricity poles, transformers, and copper metal has become rampant, hindering power distribution and supply. Kenya Power South Nyanza region officials have started an operation to curb vandalism and theft of transformers that have led to the loss of millions of shillings and frequent power outages.

The company lost 14 transformers in December 2021, according to Regional Manager Eng Dan Obiero. So far two suspects have been arrested but one escaped arrest.

Kenya Power security officers arrest about 15 people every month in South Nyanza. The theft syndicate affects Nyamira, Kisii, and Migori counties, a region that also reports many cases of illegal connections that have led to deaths.

On Saturday, one person operating a car wash in Kisii town’s Nyanchwa estate was electrocuted at his business.

Authorities say the business had an illegal connection. On March 21, 2021, three people were electrocuted by a live wire which had been connected illegally at Iyenga village in Kisii. The incident occurred at the home of Wilson Isaboke, where Maria Kerubo, 25, and her daughter aged seven died on the spot.

Teresa Nyarimbo died on her way to the Kenyenya Sub-County Hospital.

In October 2019, a Standard Four pupil died on the spot after he was electrocuted, while two of his friends sustained serious injuries in Nyosia area in Kisii County.

On Monday, a team of security personnel from the Power company raided several homes in Nyakoe, Nyanchwa and Suneka and brought down several electricity lines that were illegally connected.

More than 15 homes that had been connected to direct lines were disconnected, paving way for investigations. According to Eng Obiero, some of the meters and poles were illegally acquired.

“Vandals steal wires and meters and sell them to unsuspecting buyers. I urge residents not to buy them and instead follow the right channels to get connected to electricity.”

He added: “Vandalism and theft of transformers are derailing efforts to improve the region’s economy.” According to the Energy Act 2019, vandalism, theft, and damage of streetlights and power installations attract a fine of Sh5 million or imprisonment for five years or both.

Further, the vehicles used to transport vandalised materials and equipment shall be confiscated by the state.

Anyone who does illegal connections and participates in electricity theft will be fined Sh1 million or one-year imprisonment or both with the illegal power connection disconnected immediately.