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ELECTION 2022

Power installations's land encroachers have 30 days to vacate

NATIONAL
By Mireri Junior | Jan 27th 2022 | 4 min read

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i and his Energy counterpart Dr Monica Juma when they met regional and country commissioners, county police commanders, KPLC senior managers and other energy parastatals at Kenya School of Government, Kabete, Kiambu County. [Courtesy]

The government on Thursday gave encroachers on land reserved for power transmission 30 days to vacate to curb recently witnessed vandalism and nationwide power outages.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i said the Government was keen to ensure nationwide outages blamed on sabotage and vandalism witnessed early January does not recur.

“We must 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 Matiang’i.

Matiang’i said the sabotage of KPLC installations amounted to terrorism and economic sabotage, adding that the government will borrow from previous successes in adopting an all-of-government approach to secure important investments. 

Energy Cabinet Secretary Dr Monica Juma said repairing the latest vandalism was costly with the Government spending at least Sh246 million in material and labour 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.

Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said more officers from CIPU will be deployed to protect energy installations.

The statement comes after CS Matiang’i met regional and country commissioners, county police commanders, Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) senior managers and other energy parastatals at Kenya School of Government, Kabete, Kiambu County.

The meeting was also attended by Energy PS Maj Gen (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa and the chairpersons and managing directors of KPLC and KETRACO.

Matiang’i, however, said the clearances to be coordinated by country commissioners and grassroots-based National government administrators will be done humanely and in consultation with affected individuals.

Countrywide blackout

The country was plunged into a nationwide blackout when four pylons tumbled down in Embakasi after vandals reportedly tampered with critical parts of the installations.

A scheme to vandalise 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 metres 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 Uhuru 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.

Charged

The move comes a day after three senior Kenya Power officials were charged with sabotage and negligence of duty after the State dropped similar charges against six of their colleagues.

Raphael Ndolo (Acting General Manager, Network Management), David Kamau (Manager Transmission, Network Department) and Julius Mwaniki (Second Assistant Engineer, Transmission Department) who were in charge of the central office denied the two counts, in relation to a power blackout experienced across the country on January 11.

According to the charge sheet Ndolo, Kamau and Mwaniki were accused of jointly with other Kenya Power employees not before the court, unlawfully with intent to sabotage failed to maintain and reinforce the Dandora-Embakasi high voltage power lines that supply electricity to Kenyans, leading to the collapse of towers 11, 12, 13, 14 in Nairobi’s Imara Daima area.

Kahawa Law Courts Chief Magistrate Diana Mochache directed Ndolo, Kamau and Mwaniki to deposit Sh1 million cash bail with an alternative surety bond of Sh2 million. She ordered the case to be heard on March 7.

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