Kenya Power has raised the red flag over an upsurge in the theft of transformer fuses in the coast region.
Coast regional manager Hicks Waswa confirmed that seven transformers were vandalised on Tuesday night, leaving at least 1,600 customers without power in Kengeleni, Kongowea (Nyali), Majengo, Tononoka Stadium, Tononoka Hall (Mvita), Chaani and Changamwe.
“We are experiencing an increase in the stealing of transformer fuses across Mombasa and Kilifi counties and this is something we need to collectively fight,” Mr Waswa said.
The vandalising of transformers, he said, remains a key challenge in providing reliable electricity in the Coast region.
“We wake up in the morning and we find we have lost supply. Over the weekend (October 16-17) we had another 11 transformers whose fuses were stolen. Daily, we have an average of at least three to four fuses stolen for the last two months,” he said.
“I hope this lifting of the curfew will be beneficial, as most of these cases happened during curfew hours.”
But he noted that Kenya Power is more concerned about the disruption of power supply that affects many households and companies connected to the grid.
“The value of one fuse may not be much as we have at least nine fuses in a transformer. The cost of replacement may be insignificant but we are worried about the 200 or so consumers who are connected to a transformer. This is the most inconveniencing,” he explained.
He noted that most of the emergencies they respond to late in the night are a result of theft of fuses.
Four people have been arrested and taken to court and the cases are underway, he said.
Mombasa and Malindi are the most affected. He added that Kenya Power has resorted to installing transformers higher on the poles to curb theft.
In 2016, Kenya Power blamed the vandalism of its transformers in the Coast region on drug addicts, especially in Mombasa.
The company said then that suspects were going for magnesium oxide, a powdery substance contained in the transformer fuses that have hallucinatory effects when inhaled.
The vandalising of electricity distribution equipment is among the leading causes of power outages, undermining the quality of power supply to customers and contributing to reduced productivity in industries.
Kenya Power plans to increase surveillance on vulnerable transformers and enhance coordination with community policing authorities in the affected localities.