The national electricity distributor, Kenya Power, has intensified its campaign to promote public safety and reduce energy losses.
Speaking during an exercise to remove illegal connections along Lunga Lunga Road in Nairobi’s Industrial Area this morning, the Company’s Managing Director & CEO, Bernard Ngugi, said the recent increase in the Company’s system losses is partly attributable to a surge in illegal activities on its electricity network.
“We have seen a rise in the number of electrical accidents occasioned by illegal power lines, notably in informal settlements. Illegal connections cause safety concerns since they do not adhere to global standards. Regrettably, some of these incidents have led to the loss of property, limbs and in the worst case scenario, lives,” Mr. Ngugi said.
Mr. Ngugi, said that illegal electricity connections also cause overloads on transformers which compromises the quality of power supply to legally connected customers.
The MD said illegal power connections are also done using materials vandalized from Kenya Power infrastructure, and cautioned stern action was being taken against perpetrators of power theft.
“Most of the connections are done using wrong and unsafe materials and this poses a serious danger to both human beings and animals. We want to caution those engaging in these illegal activities that the law will deal firmly with them,” added Mr Ngugi.
The MD asked customers living in informal settlements to use legally connected power as it was affordable compared to what is being offered by power cartels.
“Some residents of informal settlements are paying cartels as much as KSh 1,000 per month yet they use one bulb. If they were using legally connected power, the much they would pay is about Ksh 250 per month,” added Mr Ngugi.
During the raid, several materials used in power theft including wires were recovered and at least three people arrested at Viwandani along Lunga Lunga Road.
Commercial losses contribute about half of the Company’s system losses which stood at 23.46% as at June 2020. There are various forms of electricity theft which include illegal connections, tampering with meters to ensure the meter records lower consumption units, and meter bypasses.
“In a bid to reverse this trend,” said Mr. Ngugi, “the Company is carrying out various public sensitisation campaigns in partnership with the National Government Administration Officers (NGAO) to educate customers and the general public on electrical safety as well as caution them on illegal connections.”
The utility firm is working in collaboration with security agencies to heighten surveillance of the grid network and all Company systems to arrest illegal connections, fraud and other illegal activities affecting the business.
In the last financial year ending June 2021, Kenya Power Security team and the Police apprehended 943 suspects for perpetrating illegal activities on the KPLC network.
“We are confident that the public awareness campaigns will empower our customers and the general citizenry with relevant information on these three thorny issues as we endeavour to provide safe, legal and reliable power supply to customers,” he added.
The Energy Act 2019 prescribes stiff penalties for those caught engaging in electricity theft including a fine of KSh.1,000,000 or one year’s imprisonment or both for the offence of illegal connection and electricity theft.