Lodwar town, which had seen booming business and transport services at night due to reliable lighting, is now on its slumber.
The town first roared to life when the Turkana County government invested Sh15 million in an ambitious solar-powered street lighting project that was aimed at transforming it into a 24-hour economic hub.
But lack of a proper management strategy to secure the lights led to uncontrolled vandalism, with thieves targeting solar panels and batteries.
Only a handful of the lights at known businesses or busy streets are now working. Most streets are dotted with white posts with no lights on them.
Mr Absolom Ndong’a, a trader, said that street children and criminals now take advantage of the darkness to terrorise innocent traders who are working till late in the night to serve motorists and passengers.
"I recall an incident where an armed man used to rob us at gun point but due to a swift tip off to police, he was arrested after robbing an M-Pesa agent in 2017 and the pistol recovered," Mr Ndong'a said.
World Bank project
He said that traders’ hopes were rekindled when a World Bank-funded street lighting project was initiated.
The traders said that the lights did not serve them for long as they were switched off in 2019 after the county tourism and cultural festival, which attracted local and international tourists, ended.
Mr Lokol Amari, a bodaboda rider, recalled that the lights had lit most of the insecure streets and the main road from Lodwar town to Kanam Kemer centre during the three-day festival.
"Immediately the festival was over, they were switched off. I urge the authorities, especially the county government, to revive the lighting project as during the night most businesses make extra income," Mr Amari said.
He said that the flood lights that were later strategically installed in town centres were also switched off last week.
The Nation established that electricity powered street lights and the floodlights that were also erected in Lokichar and Kakuma towns were switched off after a disagreement on whose responsibility it was to pay the electricity bills.
Traders and locals urged the county government to take responsibility by using part of revenue collected from businesses to clear the bills so as to ensure uninterrupted street lighting, which they said is critical in promoting a conducive environment for businesses and boosting security.