The state wants to double the fine for vandalizing power lines, railway and road furniture to 20 million shillings, in the latest effort to deter the vice that costs the economy billions every year.
The proposed increase is contained in the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Bill, 2022, currently before Parliament for debate and passage.
The government’s push for tougher fines comes amid growing vandalism of critical infrastructure, including power lines, pylons and transformers, the Nairobi highway and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
These acts of vandalism have periodically plunged the country into nationwide blackouts, disrupted Madaraka Express operations while endangering the lives of Kenyans.
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“This (bill) is intended to protect critical infrastructure, for example transformers,” reads the bill tabled by Majority Leader Amos Kimunya.
The bill which will be debated before Parliament breaks for next month’s long recess will amend the Scrap Metal Act 2015 as Kenya tightens the noose on vandals.
The country was plunged into a nationwide blackout in January after pylons supporting a high-voltage power line linking Nairobi to the Kiambere hydroelectric power station collapsed following acts of vandalism at Imara Daima. It was the third national blackout in the past four years.
Last year, a Madaraka Express passenger train bound for Mombasa was forced to stop for hours after criminals removed 22 continuous gauge blocks in Makueni County.
In 2017, the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) also revealed that vandals had taken material worth 1.2 billion shillings from the SGR line in the first five months of operation.
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Major highways, including the eight-lane Thika Road, have also been targeted by vandals for metal parts of guardrails and walkways.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in January banned scrap metal exports and transactions, hitting traders currently operating in the sector hard.
“We have seen the vandalism of various panels and pylons of our transmission lines. We have also seen clear cases of sabotage, as was the case in Naivasha, where people intentionally took down some of our transmission lines and pylons to create havoc and chaos,” Mr. Kenyatta said.
Mr. Kenyatta added that the moratorium will ensure that the materials do not come from hard-earned investments by the Kenyan people.
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The trade ban has yet to be lifted four months later, with the government saying scrap dealers must apply for new licenses and join associations before they are allowed to resume trading.