The Department of Energy and Natural Resources in Homa Bay County will spend Ksh10 million to install new solar street lights and which are less prone tom vandalism.
The new lights will be installed in areas which have experienced increased cases of street light destruction which has contributed to possible insecurity.
Chief Officer Energy and Mining, Maryline Agwa said the government has lost up to 100 solar lights to vandalism and car accidents.
According to the Chief Officer, the government installed 1090 solar street lights across the county to help traders extend their business operations into the night.
The lights were put in market centers and along major roads in towns such as Homa Bay, Mbita, Oyugis and Kendu Bay. However dozens of poles were cut down by criminals and their solar panels and batteries stolen. The vandalism got the attention of residents who at one point decided to take matters into their own hands by lynching suspects.
A new hope is in the horizon, nevertheless, as the new lights which are to be installed will have inbuilt components which according to Agwa, would be hard for criminals to steal.
“We established that the vandalism was caused by the demand for light by fishermen in the lake at night. Criminals cut the lights which are then charged during the day then used at by fishermen at night. The new lights are complicated and are difficult to dissemble,” she said.
The Chief Officer told journalists during training on reporting on renewable energy organized by Hivos that the new model of street lighting is also equipped with motion sensors that would cause the light to brighten, letting people around the lamp know that it is being vandalized.
Another advantage of the new lights which the government plans to install is prolonged battery life.
Agwa said the first model of solar light has a battery that lasts for four years.
“Apart from extended battery life of six years, the new lights will not have a component that holds batteries which are prone to theft,” she said.
Solar panels from the first street lighting models will be installed on rooftops of the county headquarters and the assembly to generate electricity during the day.
“Those found engaging in selling or buying stolen solar panels belonging to the county government will be persecuted. Our collaboration with security officers have managed to arrest three suspects,” said Awga.
Hivos East Africa is implementing a Green and Inclusive programme whose overall objective is to meet the energy needs of women and men for their daily activities, livelihoods, education and health. Our approach involves including both traditionally energy and non-energy organizations in our lobby and advocacy. In Homa Bay County, Hivos has partnered with Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in this endeavor.
Hivos considers the media as a key stakeholder in its work and purposes to work with journalists in our endeavors.