Police in Gatsibo District are holding three people in connection with the vandalising of electric pylons that they dismantle to sell as scrap metals.
The three suspects, who are held at Kabarore Police station, are Jean Pierre Nsengiyumva, Evariste Hakiza and a woman identified as Laetitia Urimubandi.
They are accused of vandalising five electric pylons weighing over 500kgs that had been installed by local company NPD Cotraco.
Police identified Nsengiyumva and Hakiza as the prime culprits who dismantled the pylons and sold the pieces to Urimubandi who operates a scrap metal business.
According to the police, the trio was arrested following complaints filed by NPD Cotraco regarding disappearance of the pylons.
“Preliminary investigations led us to the two men who had by the time of their arrest vendalised five pylons. We arrested them along with Urimubandi,” said the Eastern Region Police Spokesperson Inspector of Police Jean Bosco Dusabe.
NPD Cotraco has put the value of the five pylons at Rwf 52 million but Nsengiyumva and Hakiza were selling a kilogramme at Rwf300 meaning they ended up selling the five, pylons weighing 500kg, at just Rwf150,000.
“Also, during the operation, we impounded a FUSO truck registration number RAA 962Y that we found carrying pieces of the dismantled pylons,” said Dusabe, adding that investigations are still going on to identify if no other public infrastructure have been damaged and also process their files for prosecution.
Dusabe issued a tough warning against vandalising public infrastructure saying it was detrimental to national development.
Police also warned of severe consequences to whoever will be caught in such acts, which, IP Dusabe said, affect the country’s development programmes and at times lead to loss of life as some people are electrocuted while stealing the pylons.
Emmanuel Ruzindana , the head of security at NPD Cotraco in the Eastern region, said the pylons were being stolen at night and it was hard to identify how they were disappearing.
“When we reported the case, Police worked with residents of Kabarore and arrested the thieves. We are grateful for all the invested in bringing these people to justice and protecting public infrastructures,” he said.
He added that, “This is a loss to everyone, right from the country to the last consumer because the money that should have been spent on other public infrastructures will be used to putting up new pylons and rehabilitate those that have been destroyed.”
Officials from Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL), Gatsibo branch, said such illegal activities cost the government a lot of money while serving the public becomes harder when infrastructures are vendalised.
The last case of vendalisation of public infrastructure was heard in April last year in Huye District where police arrested three men in connection with stealing underground electric cables connecting Huye mineral water plant in Ngoma Sector.