Kenya Power says it has incurred losses of Sh60 million in seven months after criminals vandalised street lights.
The acting general manager for Network Management and Infrastructure Development, David Mwaniki, said the trend has also frustrated efforts to turn Kenya into a 24-hour economy.
The NSE-listed power distributor said vandals had been invading its infrastructure, stealing bulbs and other electric parts for sale to rogue traders.
They usually climb lamp posts in the streets at night and remove the bulbs, plunging town centres into darkness.
“The problem is experienced in all counties and the situation is of grave concern. Vandals are making it hard for us to make counties a 24-hour economy,” he told the Business Daily in Kutus, Kirinyaga after touring Karuti village where Kenya Power officials had disconnected power to homes belonging to 500 families.
The move triggered protests by the residents and local MP Gichimu Githinji.
“We want people to continue working day and night to grow the economy in counties and that is why we are installing street lights in all urban centres … but criminals are messing up our work. They should be tamed,” said Mr Mwaniki.
He cited Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Kiambu counties as the most affected by vandalism of street lights.
The vandals did not spare street lights recently installed in Kutus and Kagio towns during the devolution conference in March. “We generate revenue from street light projects but when they are vandalised we get nothing,” he said.
Accompanied by Mr Githinji, Mr Mwaniki called for more night patrols.
“Police should wake up and do their job of protecting property,” he said.
Kenya Power recently stepped up efforts to combat vandalism of its infrastructure in a bid to deter criminals with stiff penalties including jail time.
Three people were this month sentenced to serve a 10-year jail term after being charged with vandalising electrical conductors contrary to section 64(4) of the Energy Act. The three Masaba North sub-county residents were also handed an alternative in a fine of Sh5 million each.
The firm earlier said it had been working with Interpol to curb trade in copper windings within and across the border. Vandals typically target Kenya Power transformers, street lights and wires.
Company security manager Mohamed Mmaka previously revealed that vandals had made away with 73 transformers valued at Sh20 million in the current financial year.