An engineer fixes a Kenya Power and Lighting Company transformer. [Photo/]

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The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has recorded a 40 percent decrease in the vandalism of transformers in the first half of the year 2017.

This was attributed to stiffer legal penalties, increased surveillance and placing transformers above live wires to curb their theft.

The vandalism incidences have dropped to 133 cases in the first half of the year as compared to 228 cases in 2015 and 535 cases in 2014 over a similar period.

According to a World Bank report, Kenyans stay without power for an average of 25 days a year, due to blackouts.The utility firm has considered building transformers that do not use oil and cost half the price as compared to oil-based ones.

The transformers are targeted for their toxic oil allegedly used for frying food at roadside stalls and copper wires sold to fix motors and as scrap metal. Some initiatives that have proven successful for the utility company include mounting transformers in more inaccessible places such as much higher up on poles and inside homes.

In 2012, a change in legislation boosted Kenya Power’s efforts having spent 4 million dollars to replace vandalized transformers. The amended law imposed a minimum 10-year-jail sentence on transformer vandals and up to 30 years without the option of a fine. This was a punitive move from the previous fine of sh 5,000 or being sent to prison for six months.