Vandals cost Kenya Power 365 transformers in a year

Kenya Power and Lightning Company (KPLC) Managing Director Joseph Siror. 

Photo credit: File | Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Kenya Power lost 365 transformers due to vandalism in 2023, highlighting the growing menace that bleeds the utility millions of shillings annually and plunges customers into darkness.

The power distributor says they were valued at Sh328 million, translating to an average cost of Sh898,630 per transformer, whose most valuable components include special oil that is stable at high temperatures and ideal for insulation.

Kenya Power adds that it has lost a further 78 transformers valued at Sh78 million this year, adding to the 76 transformers worth Sh68 million lost to vandals between May and December 2022.

Vandals also target other public infrastructure, including power lines and road guard rails, with the parts often ending up at scrap metal dealers or being smuggled out of the country.

The power distributor lamented the end of the 2022 five-month ban on scrap metal dealerships, revealing that it had stopped vandalism of its facilities.

“Our investigations have revealed a direct link between vandalism and the copper waste business. For example, between January and May 2022, when the government banned scrap metal dealing, we had zero cases of vandalism,” said Kenya Power managing director Joseph Siror on Wednesday.

“However, immediately after the moratorium was lifted, we saw a serious spike, with 76 transformers worth Sh68 million vandalised between May and December 2022.”

He called for a total ban on copper exports to curb vandalism of its wires, as well as for scrap metal dealers to be required to disclose the sources of their copper and aluminium.

Kenya Power says it is currently welding transformer bases on channels, installing transformer units above high voltage lines, installing alarm systems on transformers, switching from oil-filled to dry-type transformer units, using aluminium transformers, and extensive intelligence gathering as part of fresh efforts to reduce vandalism.

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