People who have encroached on land set aside for power transmission lines have 30 days to leave the wayleaves, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has said.
Wayleaves should be between 60 and 120 meters on either side of the transmission line, depending on load and growth plans.
The clearances, which will be supervised by country commissioners and grassroots-based National government administrators, will be done sensitively and in conjunction with impacted individuals, added the CS on Thursday.
The CS told regional and country commissioners, county police commanders, senior managers of the Kenya Power and other energy parastatals that the government was committed to ensuring that the nationwide outages blamed on sabotage and vandalism that occurred earlier this month did not happen again.
“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 the CS.
Four pylons collapsed in Embakasi, plunging the country into darkness after vandals allegedly tampered with vital portions of the structures.
Security intelligence foiled a plot to vandalize more pylons in Naivasha, which may have resulted in weeks of blackout.
The incidents highlighted the dangers presented by high-voltage pylons that snake through locations where designated wayleaves have been encroached upon by densely inhabited buildings.
The administrators were also tasked with enforcing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s scrap metal trading ban, which was announced last week and is designed to deter destruction of essential infrastructure by denying the material a ready market.
They will henceforth have to compile a database of all scrap metal dealers in their jurisdictions and verify their registration and compliance status.
“We want to put an order in this madness. We will do so with a measure of ruthlessness,” the CS added.
Energy sector managers will be obliged to map out energy facilities in their jurisdictions and provide bi-monthly reports on their security status under the new setup, which requires county commissioners to liaise with area commanders of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU).
The CS said the apparent sabotage of Kenya Power installations amounted to terrorism and the undermining of the country’s economy, and that the government would learn from prior accomplishments in securing key investments by taking an all-of-government approach.
Energy CS Monica Juma who was also present at the meeting held at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete, said that the cost of repairing the latest vandalism was high, with the government spending at least Sh246 million in material and labor, while the cost of lost business and damages is estimated to be in the 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,” she said.
More CIPU officers would be assigned to defend energy plants, according to Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai.
Energy PS Maj Gen (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa, as well as the chairpersons and managing directors of KPLC and KETRACO, attended the meeting.