The Homa Bay government has installed 745 solar streetlights over the past five years to improve security and extend business hours.
Energy executive Odero Matata said these include 450 solar market lights and 295 streetlights.
Odero said the lights have transformed the society by improving security and reducing crime in major towns and rural centres.
“The business hours, especially for mama mbogas and boda boda operators, have been extended, while burglaries and muggings have drastically reduced,” he said.
“The lights have greatly improved the economies of townships. The traders are able to carry out their businesses longer into the night, which has improved cash flows.”
He said they have had met some setbacks, which include vandalism of the solar masts. Crooks have destroyed and stolen quite a number of panels, batteries and other accessories.
“But generally, residents have been happier because of the presence of the solar lighting programme, called ‘Okonyo Welo’ (Save a Visitor),” he said.
Homa Bay Business Community Association chairman Festus Onduso urged the county government to ensure more market lights are installed in major markets in the CBD, saying the main market lacks even a single light.
He said this would prevent insecurity. In the recent past, thieves have been breaking into their stores and making away with valuables, Onduso said.
The chairman said more lighting would also help the mama mbogas who operate at night, who are now forced to scramble for space along the roads for better visibility.
Homa Bay Traders’ Union secretary Jackson Nyambega praised the initiative but asked the county government to consider rehabilitating the Sh40 million modern market in the town, which has been since been abandoned by traders.
“The programme is a good initiative but for traders and their goods to be more secure, we appeal to the county government to rehabilitate the market, so we can carry out our activities inside,” he said.