NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – Escalating cases of transformer vandalism has prompted the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Ltd (KPLC) to initiate the process of replacing conventional transformers in vandalism prone areas with new type that do not use oil.
The company has already tendered for supply of about one hundred dry type transformers to be installed in areas such as Kiambu, Nyeri,Thika, Dagoretti Corner, Ruiru, Gatundu, Limuru and Kitengela which experience high cases of vandalism.
According to KPLC’s Operations and Maintenance Manager, Noah Omondi, the company’s direct losses attributable to transformer vandalism amount to an average of Sh.600 million per year with the economy losing about over Sh2 billion 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 high rise buildings in other parts of the world to prevent fire hazards associated with traditional oil type transformers.
In addition to the new dry type transformers, KPLC has 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 vandalised 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 for a ban in the export of scrap metal in 2008.
In addition, the company has conducted media campaigns and road shows to sensitise the public about vandalism and how it affects them.
Every month, vandalism-related incidences leave approximately 14,000 customers in darkness around the country.