Opinion and Analysis
Bid to enhance penalties for vandalism timely
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 20:24
Proposals by Attorney-General Githu Muigai and Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro to enhance fines against convicted telephone and electricity cable vandals are welcome.
The blow dealt by vandals on the operations of utility firms and the economy as a whole is huge and any such deterrent measures must be supported by all.
The country’s manufacturing and service sectors are particularly hard-hit by outages whenever vandals strike cable facilities.
However, caution must be taken to avoid excessive measures such as condemning convicted vandals to a lifetime in jail. In as much as vandals leave in their wake massive disruptions, we should remain fair to them through reasonable fines or jail sentences.
Let us not fall to the whims of lobbyists or be carried away by fits of anger and frustration. We must stay sober and humane when tackling such deep rooted problems.
Having the convicted vandals pay a heftier fine of Sh5 million or serve 10 years in jail as proposed by the AG is good enough to discourage future destruction.
Most of these vandals only act as stooges of some powerful forces driving this illegal trade and attention must be accorded to all those involved instead of just focusing on this poor group that only driven by the a desperate quest to earn a coin.
The major scrap metal dealers are known and enforcement agencies cannot fail to trace their day-to-day activities if they honestly wanted to kill-off the menace of vandalism.
Trade in scrap metal should be brought under strict regulatory terms so that there is no easy market for vandalised cables.
Scrap metal dealers should be subjected to a water-tight licensing procedure where all their operations are monitored to ensure their wares are legally sourced and ferried from point-to-point with authorisation by government.
Police should also be accorded powers to raid businesses suspected of fuelling vandalism and take action against them.
The police should also be allowed to board and inspect vehicles ferrying consignments of scarp metal as a way to discouraging vandalism.
By cutting off illegal market outlets for stolen cables, vandals will have no business destroying equipment that have no financial gain to them. This can be done if the law enforcers are committed to their job.
Those behind all forms of illegal trade are known to have a soft spot for corrupt law enforcers and will gleefully use such rogue officers to drive their underground businesses.