Over 800 cases of vandalism targeting energy transmission lines recorded between January and September

On 29 September 2023 at 06:28

Rwanda National Police (RNP), on Thursday, September 28, held a meeting with Rwanda Energy Group (REG), Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) to draw measures against the rising cases of vandalism and theft of utility equipment from transmission and distribution lines.

The meeting held at the RNP General Headquarters in Kacyiru, was chaired by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Felix Namuhoranye, reviewed the status of vandalism and response measures.

It was also attended by the Chief Executive Officer of REG, Armand Zingiro, and Omar Munyaneza, the Chief Executive Officer of WASAC Group as well as dealers in scraps and managers of recycling industries.

At least 829 cases of vandalism targeting energy transmission and distribution lines, were recorded between January and September, this year.

According to REG, most cases affected service cables, cross-arms stolen from pylons, earthing wires, underground cables, meters, twisted cables, circuit breakers, surge arrestors, and transformer damages, among others.

As a response, Rwanda National Police has since recovered at least 12360 metres of stolen.

Scores of vandals have also been arrested, including 50 people apprehended last month.

The majority 39 percent cases of utility vandalism were registered in the Southern Province followed by Northern with 26 percent, Western and Eastern provinces with 13 percent each, and 9 percent of the cases were registered in City of Kigali.

IGP Namuhoranye warned of increased operations against these acts that affect national development and security. He further cautioned dealers in scraps, who buy stolen utility items thus influencing such vandalism and theft.

“Operate your businesses in accordance with the law. Buying equipment stolen from vandalized power lines, road signage, water distribution lines and other public infrastructure will not be condoned and it will call for tough measures against anyone involved,” IGP Namuhoranye said.

Normally, utility items are not considered as scraps unless they are sold by the respective institutions.

“Manhole covers are not scraps and so are electric and cyber cables, nuts and bolts stolen from power lines, power metres and other utility equipment that encourage vandalism and theft,” the Police Chief said.

Also raised during the meeting are people involved in scraps business, who are not registered and registered companies that operate contrary to the set guidelines.

REG Chief Executive Officer, Zingiro said that vandalism of electricity infrastructure has become one of the major challenges that the energy group is facing in different parts of the country.

This, he added, affects the smooth supply of electricity services to the public, causes insecurity, negative social economic impact, losses, electricity incidents among others.

Equally, WASAC CEO, Munyaneza said that these acts of vandalism are affecting government efforts to extend clean water to all Rwandans by the end of 2024.

Increased operations against vandals and dealers in stolen utility and items and road signage, community awareness, regular inspection at recycling industries, more deployments and information sharing are among the initiated measures to curb the high impact crimes of vandalizing utility facilities and other public infrastructures.