June 13, 2024
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Kenya Power Calls for Total Ban on Copper Exports to Curb Vandalism

Kenya Power has urged the government to impose a complete ban on copper exports to combat the rampant vandalism of infrastructure in the country. The utility company has faced significant losses due to the ongoing destruction and looting of power lines, transformers, poles, and other electrical equipment, including attacks on power substations.

The actions of vandals have severely disrupted power distribution and affected other critical infrastructure such as roads and railways. The company’s Managing Director, Dr. Joseph Siror, issued a statement highlighting the need for stricter regulations. Dr. Siror called for scrap metal dealers to declare their sources, especially for copper and aluminum, and for continuous vetting of all participants in the scrap metal trade, including dealers, smelters, and exporters.

“There should also be joint inspections of business premises to ensure compliance with the law and filing of returns by dealers as per the Scrap Metal Act and Scrap Metal regulations,” said Siror. He revealed that in 2024 alone, 78 transformers worth Sh78 million have been vandalized, emphasizing that this loss does not account for the broader economic impact, including the cost of unserved energy, loss of business, and potential loss of lives, which could amount to billions of Kenya shillings.

Despite regulation by the Scrap Metal Council, some unscrupulous dealers continue to target key installations. Paul Nyaga, Kenya Power’s head of security, identified vandalism hotspots in Kiambu, Embu, Machakos, Kajiado, Muranga, and parts of Mombasa, specifically Changamwe and Miritini. Energy News Africa reports that Nyaga noted that the lucrative export market for copper and aluminum, particularly in China and India, is fueling the trend, with black market prices for copper reaching up to Sh1,700 per kilogram.

The call from Kenya Power coincides with the Energy Ministry’s efforts to reduce system losses to an average of 20 percent and double energy efficiency. Energy CS Davis Chirchir stated that these measures would enhance energy security, reduce the expenditure of foreign currency reserves on energy imports, lessen the strain on the national grid during peak times, lower power bills, and reduce the costs associated with emissions.

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