Kenya Power Advocates for Total Ban on Waste Copper Trade to Combat Power Infrastructure Vandalism


By Dennis Gichuiri


Kenya Power has called for an outright ban on waste copper trade as a strategic measure to tackle the escalating issue of power infrastructure vandalism. During a joint stakeholders’ forum attended by representatives from the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK), the Scrap Metal Council, and scrap metal dealers, the Company’s Managing Director and CEO, Dr. (Eng.) Joseph Siror, underscored the direct link between local waste copper trade and vandalism of power installations.

“Our investigations have revealed a direct link between vandalism and the copper waste business. For example, between January and May 2022, when the government banned scrap metal dealing, we had zero cases of vandalism. However, immediately after the moratorium was lifted, we saw a serious spike in vandalism cases. Seventy-six transformers worth KSh 68 million were vandalized between May and December 2022. This figure only accounts for the cost of installing new transformers. If we compute the cost of unserved energy, loss of business, and possibly lives, the losses are in the billions of Kenya shillings,” stated Dr. Siror.

The CEO highlighted that in 2023, the company lost an additional 365 transformers worth KSh 328 million, and in the current year, 78 transformers valued at KSh 78 million have already been vandalized.

Dr. Siror proposed comprehensive vetting of all stakeholders engaged in the scrap metal trade, including local collectors, main scrap metal dealers, smelters, and exporters. “We propose that all traders dealing with scrap metal, especially copper and aluminium, must declare their sources to ensure traceability and accountability,” he emphasized. He also called for joint inspections of business premises to ensure compliance with the law and the submission of returns by dealers as mandated by the Scrap Metal Act and regulations.

Additionally, Dr. Siror advocated for a more robust regulatory framework within the scrap metal trade to eliminate rogue elements who benefit from vandalism. He commended the Energy Act 2019, which criminalizes tampering with electricity installations, energy theft, vandalism, and damage to streetlights and power infrastructure. The Act imposes a KSh 5 million fine or a five-year prison sentence, or both, for offenders.

“This serves as a strong deterrent and underscores the collective responsibility to protect our shared resources. While many participants in the scrap metal industry are legitimate, a few unscrupulous dealers perpetuate this vice. We urge all stakeholders to join us in rooting out these elements to ensure a sustainable and reliable power supply for all Kenyans,” Dr. Siror added.

The stakeholders at the forum expressed their support for enhanced measures to safeguard the country’s power infrastructure, acknowledging the significant impact of vandalism on the economy and the daily lives of Kenyans. The proposed ban and regulatory improvements are seen as critical steps towards ensuring the reliability and sustainability of power supply across the nation.

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