“The effects on the economy have been colossal. If the Naivasha challenge had not been averted, we would have seen our country plunge to darkness for 3 to 4 weeks,”
“We want to put an order in this madness. We will do so with a measure of ruthlessness,”
People who have encroached on land reserved for power transmission lines across the country have 30 days to clear from the wayleaves.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i however said the clearances that will be coordinated by country commissioners and grassroots-based National government administrators will be done humanely and in consultation with affected individuals.
Addressing regional and country commissioners, county police commanders, and senior managers of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and other energy parastatals, the CS said the Government was keen to ensure nationwide outages blamed on sabotage and vandalism that was witnessed early this month does not recur.
“We must work together to be a step or two ahead of these criminals. This is not about the Ministry of Interior or that of Energy but the safety of our people. Working hand in hand will ensure we deliver secure transmission and that our people have access to safe energy,” said Dr. Matiang’i.
The country was plunged into nationwide darkness when four pylons tumbled down in Embakasi after vandals reportedly tampered with critical parts of the installations. A scheme to vandalize more pylons in Naivasha that could have resulted in weeks of the blackout was thwarted by security intelligence.
The incidences drew attention to the dangers posed by high-voltage pylons snaking through areas where designated wayleaves have been encroached by densely populated dwellings. Depending on load and expansion plans, wayleaves should be between 60 and 120 meters on either side of the transmission line.
The administrators were also tasked with the enforcement of the ban on the trade on scrap metal that was announced by President Kenyatta last week and that is intended to discourage vandalism of critical infrastructure by denying the material a ready market.
They will be required to develop a database of all scrap metal dealers in their counties and verify the registration and compliance status of the businesses.
“We want to put an order in this madness. We will do so with a measure of ruthlessness,” the CS said.
Under the new arrangement, county commissioners working with area commanders of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU), energy sector managers will be required to map out energy installations in their jurisdictions and file bi-monthly reports on their security status.
The CS lamented that the apparent sabotage of KPLC installations amounted to terrorism and the undermining of the country’s economy and said the government will borrow from previous successes in adopting an all-of-government approach to secure important investments.
Energy Cabinet Secretary Dr. Monica Juma who was also present at the meeting at the Kenya School of Government, Kabete said repairing the latest vandalism was costly with the Government spending at least Kshs. 246 million in material and labor while the cost of lost business and damages is estimated to run into billions of shillings.
“The effects on the economy have been colossal. If the Naivasha challenge had not been averted, we would have seen our country plunge to darkness for 3 to 4 weeks,” added the CS.
The Inspector-General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai said more officers from CIPU will be deployed to protect energy installations. The meeting was also attended by Energy PS Maj Gen (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa and the chairpersons and managing directors of KPLC and KETRACO.