Power routes squatters face eviction, Matiang’i directs
People who have encroached land reserved for power transmission lines across the country have 30 days to clear from the wayleaves.
The directive is among measures that have been put in place following the recent countrywide power outage as a result of vandalism that has cost the government Sh246 million in materials and labour, and damages estimated to run into billions of shillings.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i yesterday directed squatters who had put up illegal structures near power lines to leave within the period, saying the areas will be cleared on expiry of the notice.
The CS, however, said the eviction, that will be coordinated by county commissioners and grassroots-based national government administrators, will be carried out in a humane way and in consultation with affected people.
Matiang’i also revealed that under a new arrangement, county commissioners working with local police commanders will pay special attention to energy installations within their areas of jurisdiction.
Addressing regional and county commissioners, county police commanders and senior managers of the Kenya Power and other energy parastatals, Matiang’i said the government was keen to ensure outages blamed on sabotage do not occur 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 safety of our people,” he said.
He added: “Working hand-in-hand will ensure we deliver secure transmission and that our people have access to safe energy.”
The government has come up with a raft of measures to address the problem of vandalism following the countrywide power blackout.
The country was plunged into nationwide darkness when four pylons tumbled down in Embakasi area 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 blackout, was thwarted by security intelligence.
The incidents 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.
The order is intended to discourage vandalism of critical infrastructure by denying the stolen material a ready market.
The administrators will also 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 warned.
Under the new arrangement, county commissioners working with area commanders of Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) and energy sector managers will be required to map out important installations in their jurisdictions and file bi-monthly reports on their security status.
Matiang’i said the apparent sabotage of Kenya Power installations amounted to terrorism and undermined the country’s economy. The government will borrow from previous successes in adopting an all-of-government approach to secure important investments, he added.
Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma who was present at the meeting at the Kenya School of Government, Kabete, said repairing the recently vandalised power line was costly.
“The government is spending at least Sh246 million in materials 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,” Juma said.
Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said more officers from CIPU will be deployed to protect energy installations.