Less than five months after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive for critical infrastructure vandals to be charged with treason, electricity-distributing firm Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has decried rising cases of transformer theft and vandalism in the Mt Kenya region.
In four months, vandals have stolen a total of 40 transformers in Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Embu and Isiolo counties.
According to KPLC Mt Kenya Regional Manager, Phineas Marete, out of the five counties, Nyeri and Murang’a counties have been the most affected by the recent wave of transformer theft.
“The worst hit counties are Muran’ga , Nyeri and Kirinyaga. Murang’a has recorded the highest number of stolen transformers at 22 stolen or vandalized. In Nyeri, we have recorded 15 cases while the Kirinyaga, Isiolo and Embu counties have recorded at least one case,” said Marete.
Early this month, a transformer supplying power to the late President Mwai Kibaki’s Othaya residence and 400 other neighbouring households was vandalized, three days after his burial.
During the incident, 50 kilograms of copper valued at Sh500,000 were stolen. The latest victims of transformer vandals are residents of Classic Estate, a residential estate at the outskirts of Nyeri town where more than 200 residents have for four days been staying in darkness after thieves vandalized a transformer on Monday night.
In January this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta, while addressing police cadets at the Kiganjo Police Training College, directed police to charge anyone found vandalizing critical infrastructure with treason- a charge which attracts life imprisonment sentence without the option of appeal.
Marete said despite the state putting in place hefty fines and even banning the sale of scrap metal which provided a ready market for the booty, the Sh1 million fine charged has still not been a deterrent enough to keep vandals away from critical infrastructure.
He said that KPLC was still incurring unnecessary costs in repairing and replacing transformers.
“The approximated cost of repairing or replacing a transformer is nearly Sh1 million, so as a Company we will spend Sh40 million replacing the stolen transformers and repairing transformers in this region, which is expensive,” he said.
National Assembly Majority Leader, Amos Kimunya, has already tabled a proposal before the House, seeking to set higher fines for anyone caught vandalizing critical infrastructure namely; electricity transmission lines, railway and road infrastructure.
Through the Statute Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2022, Kimunya is proposing a Sh20 million fine for culprits, which is aimed at protecting the crucial infrastructure from theft.