Crime thrives after Kenya Power uproots transformers in city crackdown

transformer mukuru

A transformer that was targeted by Kenya Power in a crackdown in Mukuru slum, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Sammy Kimatu | Nation Media Group

The crackdown on illegal power connections in Nairobi has intensified as the government targets lawbreakers in informal settlements, leading to a spike in criminal activity in some areas left in total darkness and at the mercy of thugs at night.

Following a series of raids that has seen several transformers unmounted by Kenya Power staff, many small businesses that rely on electricity have also found themselves out of work.

The most affected are Jua Kali sector workers, who use power tools daily in their trade, as well as those working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Affected businesses also include salons, barbershops, butcheries and food stalls, with butchers counting huge losses due to spoilt meat affected by lack of refrigeration.

"Normally, I keep the meat in the fridge but after running out of electricity, the meat is spoiled," said a butcher at Hazina slum in South B.

Due to continued blackouts, a number of tenants have also began an exodus as they search for rental houses in other parts of the city.

On Monday, a transformer was unmounted and carted away by Kenya Power staff in Mukuru Sokoni Slum along Aoko Road. They also removed another transformer at Mukuru-Kaiyaba Slum over the weekend, and yet another within Sanasana area in Plainsview estate.

At Mukuru Kaiyaba slum, Kenya Power has uprooted three transformers in total.

"One transformer from Kaiyaba Slum was removed and carried away from the main entrance to Sancta Maria-Mukuru Primary School. Another one mounted near Kayaba stage and a third transformer at Lengo area along Sigei Road were also removed," Mr Jacob Ibrahim, the Kaiyaba slum security chairman, told Nation.Africa.

Spike in crime 

Residents have reported a rise n criminal activity as looters take advantage of the darkness. At the moment, all Mukuru shacks located within South B, Viwandani, Embakasi and other slums have no power.

“Criminals are attacking women who rise at 4am to go to the market to buy vegetables. The suspects target money and mobile phones from them,” Mr Mulandi Mutua remarked.

But while commenting on the crackdown, South B assistant county commissioner, Mr Michael Aswani Were, said the aim is to bring clean and safe energy to the people in informal settlements.

"In fact it will be clean and safe electricity for their use compared to the residents' illegal connections which have claimed many innocent lives," Mr Were said in a statement.

Kenya Power says it has has lost billions of shillings because of illegal electricity connections.