Electricity utilities in Kenya and Nigeria have both reported acts of vandalism on their power transmission equipment over the past week with contractors such as Siemens using “mitigation measures such as armed police officers day and night” to protect assets.

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company said parts of a 220 kilovolt (kv) underground cable laid in the Nairobi National Park to connect to the 400kv Nairobi and Mombasa line were stolen.

The company said the key power transmission line was needed to connect the remaining 140 MW of geothermal power from Olkaria. It expects the repairs to take about 10 months.

During a visit to the affected sites, corporate communications manager Raphael Mworia said: “We have experienced five cases of theft since December and we have lost €10 million (Sh1.18 billion) so far. The vandals only steal copper and aluminum and we are concerned since getting spare parts takes a long time since the cable is custom made,”

Ketraco says the 400/220kv Mombasa-Nairobi transmission line is the largest in the country and its expected to be a major host of the ambitious 5,000 plus MW power project that is due to come online before the end of year 2016.

Underground cabling

Mr Mworia said they preferred underground cabling to avoid disrupting the wildlife habitat and to prevent obstructing the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport flight path.

He said: “This particular cable is 6.8 kilometres long. Its easier to transmit power through overhead cables because vandalism is low but its more superior to transmit it through underground cables as they carry more power and require low maintenance costs.

“We have increased surveillance to reduce theft. Siemens who is the main contractor has come up with mitigation measures such as having armed police officers on day and night patrol.”

Transformer theft

Meanwhile, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) said on Sunday 10 of its 200kva and 250kva transformers were vandalised in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state in recent months.

Public affairs manager of PHEDC John Onyi appealed to residents to protect electricity installations in their areas and report any suspicious activity to police.

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