Top Stories / National
Sunday, 19 Jun 2016 11:45 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Kenya Power, the state-led electricity monopoly, has broken a major syndicate of illegal power connections and arrested six people for consuming electricity fraudulently. This follows intensified surveillance by Kenya Power officials. Some of the suspects are part of a wider gang that has taken advantage of the ongoing rural electrification exercise to accelerate power connection to households across the country, thereby fraudulently acquiring money from unsuspecting members of the public in exchange for illegal connections.
Jared Muiruri and Kevin Momanyi Auma, who are part of a syndicate that constructs illegal lines, were arrested at Keragia area in Kenyenye Sub County of Kisii County on Thursday and booked at Ogembo Police Station. At the same time, a joint team from Kenya Power’s Security and Operations and Maintenance departments has recovered two spans of aluminum conductors providing illegal power supply to the Fuata Nyayo slum in Nairobi County. Efforts to trace, arrest and prosecute the culprits are ongoing.
“We have teams on the ground carrying out verification of connections alongside new connections. This has increased our surveillance and helped us make good progress in dealing with theft of electricity,” said Kenya Power’s acting Security Services Manager Maj (Rtd) Geoffrey Kigen.
In Webuye, Bungoma County, Ruth Shikuku was arrested after she was found fraudulently consuming electrical energy. Three other people have been arrested in Saika Estate, Nairobi County for self-reconnection after they were disconnected for not paying their bills.
Kenya Power is currently implementing the Last Mile Connectivity Project that is aimed at increasing the rate of access to electricity countrywide by reducing the connection fees to Sh15,000. It is also implementing the Global Partnership on Output Based Aid (GPOBA) project targeting informal settlements at a connection fees of Sh1,160 to weed out illegal power connections in these areas.
Kigen said that criminals have taken advantage of these projects to lure unsuspecting Kenyans into fraudulent deals for power connection. “We have found out that criminals are promising to connect households for about Sh10,000 exclusive of the cost of poles and conductors which the victim has to bear. We urge members of the public to be vigilant and report suspicious deals to Kenya Power, Police or other authorities to facilitate quick action”.
Beyond posing a threat on Kenya Power’s revenue, illegal power connections undermine the stability of the electricity distribution network and trigger supply challenges in addition to posing health hazards such as electrocution.
Jack is a business and society writer at the Kenya Free Press