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Kenya Power faced with new vice

Kenya Power is challenged with a unique motivator that is stimulating an increase in transformer vandalism at the Coast Region.

According to the state-owned power utility, vandals have identified a substance within the transformer fuses that when ingested gives a hallucinatory effect.

“The vice is taking a new shape, especially in Mombasa, where the suspects are going for magnesium oxide, a powdery substance contained in the transformer fuses which has hallucinatory effects when inhaled,” the utility explained in a company statement.

Kenya Power on high alert for acts of vandalism

This is a break from the tradition where vandals have been destroying transformers to steal transformer oil, copper windings and fuses.

Hezekiah Mwalwala, Kenya Power’s regional manager for Coast said: “We have recorded 20 incidents of transformer fuses vandalism in some parts of Mvita, Mishomoroni, Bombolulu, Changamwe and Nyali areas within Mombasa County. At times, this magnesium oxide is mixed with cocaine or tobacco to derive hallucinatory effects.”

In an earlier report, the utility said that between January and April this year, the power company has made a total of 174 arrests for acts of vandalism.

“Vandalism of electricity distribution equipment is among the leading causes of power outages, undermining the quality of power supply to customers in addition to reduced productivity by industries,” the power company explained.

Kenya Power has increased surveillance on vulnerable transformers and enhanced coordination with community policing authorities within the affected localities.

The Company is also placing transformers above high voltage lines beyond reach by the vandals.

Rural electrification

Night football: Young men playing football in Garissa town. Pic credit: Kenya Power
Night football: Young men playing football in Garissa town. Pic credit: Kenya Power

Despite high rates of theft and vandalism, the utility continues to bolster its efforts in rural electrification initiatives.

Last week, the utility installed street lights in Garissa town, which were commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

According to the utility, these installations have improved the quality of life of the town’s residents, where men can take part in recreational activities when the sun goes down without having to fear for their safety.

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.