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Kwale residents urged to prevent bushfires to safeguard power supply

Kwale residents urged to prevent bushfires to safeguard power supply


Thursday, April 11, 2024

KNA by Hussein Abdullahi

Kenya Power has issued a stern warning to individuals responsible for sparking bushfire incidents perilously close to electricity infrastructure in the coastal county of Kwale.

Kenya Power Kwale County business manager Calvin Jagongo says areas mostly affected are Msambweni and Matuga sub counties where the devastating consequences of these bushfires have been astutely felt.

Jagongo has sounded the alarm on the spiraling issue during the National Government Development-County Implementation, Coordination and Management Committee (NGD-CICMC) meeting chaired by Kwale County Commissioner Stephen Orinde.

He says dozens of electricity poles in the region have been burnt as bushfires ravage parts of Kwale caused by unscrupulous individuals.

The power utility firm officially decried the severe damage caused to both property and the region’s electricity infrastructure.

He says the surge in bush fires near electricity infrastructure is not just a matter of inconvenience but also poses a significant threat to the safety of residents and the stability of electricity supply in the region.

Jagongo noted that the proximity of these fires to the electricity transmission networks not only endangers lives but also leads to costly damages and interference to power supply.

“Our operational areas are witnessing fires causing substantial damage to our power installations particularly the poles and equipment,” he told the county forum.

He says Kenya Power is committed to working closely with the residents to mitigate the risks posed by bush fires and safeguard the region’s electricity supply and environmental conditions.

The Kenya Power Kwale county boss says the frequent fires are disrupting power supply imposing a financial burden on the power company as significant resources are expended to replace the affected infrastructure.

“Replacing fire-damaged power infrastructure requires substantial effort and time leading to prolonged power supply disruptions and huge financial and reputational losses to the power company,” said Jagongo.

Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Coast Regional official Eng. Lewis Maina says the bushfires are reportedly being caused by contractors doing bush clearing along major roads sparking wildfires.

“We have realized that rogue contractors carrying out routine road maintenance and bush clearing are the cause of the fires causing significant disruptions to motorists,” said Maina.

Commissioner Orinde says the intentional setting of fires near electricity poles and major roads has become a growing concern for the authorities and promised action.

He says the bushfires impact on roads leading to reduced visibility for motorists and pedestrians and serious injury or death for those navigating them.

“Personally I have witnessed a series of fire incidents along the Kombani-Kwale road resulting in poor visibility due to smoke for motorists and we cannot allow this reckless behaviour to continue,” he warned.

Mr. Orinde directed chiefs and their assistants to raise awareness about the dangers of bush fires near electricity poles and main roads.He highlighted the critical role that community involvement plays in safeguarding electricity poles and power installations to deter service interruptions.

The county administrator warned that individuals especially in farming zones found guilty of causing bush fires near electricity infrastructure will face strict penalties.

Orinde specifically asked farmers to construct fire belts before clearing and burning their farmlands to prevent uncontrolled fires that endanger electricity infrastructure in their localities.

He urged residents to report any instances of bush fires near electricity systems, equipment and materials to the authorities for action to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents.

Courtesy; KNA

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