Transformer vandalism has been the recent crime in Kenya. Vandals steal transformer oil and copper which rakes them millions of shillings in no time. Who are there vandals? How comes they understand how to disassemble the transformer before vandalism? Many questions have been asked but none answered, yet many customers have been left on the dark as KPLC accounts for for the million shillings losses.
There is a recent crisis in GilGil District, as over five transformers from different estates have been stolen in less than a month. Customers complained to the KPLC office in the end of August but the vandalism was just starting. Residents of these Estates complained of blackouts, where others are still in darkness up to now as the transformers have not yet been replaced. They are now raising their voices for the KPLC to take action and avoid further incidents.
According to KPLC’s operations and Maintenance Manager, Mr Noah Omondi, the company’s direct losses occasioned by transformer vandalism amounts to Sh600 Million per year with the economy losing abut over Sh2billion at the same time.
Unlike the conventional transformers, the dry type has no oil in them and its copper windings are encapsulated in a tough epoxy resin material, making it hard for vandals to dismember. Dry type transformers are mainly installed in basement buildings such as big supermarkets and rise buildings in other parts of the world to prevent fire hazards associated with oil type transformers.
In addition to the new dry type transformers, KPLC has also begun installing intruder alarm systems on its power equipment on a pilot basis; mounting transformers high up on the voltage lines to discourage vandals and relocating regularly vandalized transformers to safer grounds.
In the past, copper windings and electricity cables were main targets for vandals but the focus has since shifted to transformer oil, after KPLC successfully lobbied to the government to ban the export of scrap metal in 2008.
The company has also conducted media campaigns and road shows to sensitize the public about vandalism and how it affects them. Every month, vandalism-related incidents leave approximately 14,000 customers in darkness around the country.
Kenya Power Company has lost more than Sh4billion due to vandalism. KPLC Chief Manager Nairobi region Joseph Masibo says vandalism of the power transformers has forced the company to invest heavily in replacing the lost equipment. He is however optimistic that the stiffer penalties introduced will help reduce such cases.
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