Kenya Power incurs a cost of Sh3 billion per year replacing vandalized transformers and cables, occasioned by rising demand for copper wires in the market whose price is quite attractive. Orange Kenya loses up to 500 million every year through damage of its overheads, underground copper cables, and the newly installed fiber optic cables. These are just a few of the companies affected by vandalism in Kenya with others being Safaricom, Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, KETRACO, Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Airports Authority among others.
BrandMasters Agency, has launched the ‘Kuwa Shujaa’ Campaign in a response to the problem of vandalism that has affected a range of infrastructure developments across various economic sectors. The campaign brings together stakeholders from among those sectors worst affected by vandalism to co-ordinate their efforts to combat it.
‘Kuwa Shujaa’ is a public awareness campaign, seeking to change the public’s attitude to vandalism by making consumers aware of the impact of vandalism on their communities and exposing and isolating vandals for their anti-social behavior.
In a media awareness breakfast meeting held at Serena Hotel earlier this year, Fridah Musyimi, Campaign Secretary, BrandMasters Agency said, ‘It is important for the media to be involved as they play a crucial role in advocacy in Kenya and therefore bringing them aboard is expected to playing a positive role in fighting vandalism.’ The media awareness breakfast was the first of a series of anti vandalism initiatives lined up by BrandMasters Agency for the year.
Eng. Okeyo, General Manager Maintenance from Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) said that they have so far spent about 32 Billion on the Thika Super Highway on replacing vandalized road infrastructure and the destruction is still recurring. “There has been a lot of damage to these facilities, the rails and other metallic things have been broken and taken to scrap metal dealers, these actions are done mainly at night when there is minimal supervision,” he said.
Some of the strategies that were suggested to help combat vandalism include use of informers, this will help gather information that could be used in the court of law; giving stiff penalties to offenders like 3 year imprisonment, establishing Anti-Vandalism Police unit so as to safe guard the affected areas, community involvement & public awareness and the tougher regulation of the scrap metal sector among others. Mr. Patrick Mbogo, Network Planning and Optimization, Kenya Data Networks also said, ‘There’s a need to have a campaign against vandalism that will involve the government, media, stakeholders and the public.’ Vandalism of service infrastructure has targeted cables, meters, transformers and manhole covers among other items.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Express, Ndungu Njoroge, Project Manager for AccessKenya Group said, ‘AccessKenya spends an average of Sh2.5 million for cable maintenance monthly and further petitioned the government to act further in supporting ICT infrastructure through compensation for damaged cables and stiffer penalties for culprits.’
The second and third phase of the ‘Kuwa Shujaa’ campaign by BrandMasters Agency will involve Sectorial Meetings & Multi Stakeholder Conferences as well as a Lobbying Campaign.
Vandalism of service infrastructure is one of the biggest contributors to inefficiencies and market failures for electricity and water supply, communication and security. Cable vandalism for instance, not only affects the proper functioning of a communications network, it also causes inconvenience to users of that system, as well as impacting negatively on national revenue and on the proper functioning of the country’s emergency services. In conclusion, the problem of vandalism is related to socio-economic conditions in the country and requires a political and economic strategy both at the government and corporate level.