To regain public confidence, Kenya Power will have to do a lot of work to right the wrongs that have cast the parastatal in a bad light in recent days. The scandal in which some crooked employees used their connections, expertise and insider knowledge to rip off customers by inflating their bills is still fresh in the minds of many electricity consumers. However, the utility deserves praise for taking the revelations seriously and doing something to plug the loopholes the fraudsters exploited.
Some wayward staff have been found out and sacked and, hopefully, the masterminds of this massive scam will have their day in court. Such criminal breach of trust by employees must be severely punished to deter would-be crooks. The utility has also been prompt to investigate complaints by customers and also in cracking down on electricity thieves.
This thieving culture will not be uprooted overnight. While the masterminds of such illicit schemes and their accomplices deserve harsh punishment, the beneficiaries must not go scot-free.
Keen to clean up its systems further, Kenya Power has launched a countrywide crackdown on illegal connections. This is a widespread problem, especially in the informal settlements in Nairobi and other towns, in which the company loses a lot of money through this blatant theft. In Mombasa alone, for instance, the firm loses Sh1.2 billion every year through illegal connections. But as the fraudsters tamper with electricity supply, the poor illegal connections pose a grave danger to the beneficiary households.
However, Kenya Power knows only too well that this theft occurs mainly through collusion with its dishonest staff. The success of this campaign will, therefore, depend on the ability to dismantle the internal link in the electricity theft racket.