23 May 2024

Following an exercise undertaken by Kaya Gandini elders, local administration, and officers drawn from Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO), National Museums of Kenya (NMK), and consultants Nippon Koei Kenya, it has been established through ground-truthing and government maps that no part of the Kaya Gandini is impacted by the 220kV Mariakani-Dogo Kundu power transmission project. Kaya Gandini is a UNESCO-classified and government-gazetted monument of cultural and biological significance.

The exercise was conducted following complaints received by KETRACO from community through National Museums of Kenya and subsequently forwarded to NEMA. This feedback was due to the gazettement done by National Land Commission (NLC) on behalf of KETRACO for the creation of a wayleave for the proposed 220kV Mariakani Dongokundu Transmission Line. The part of the gazette notice that identified 0.1970ha as Kaya forest was due to a mismatch in registry index map compared to the fixed boundary map.

KETRACO and NMK consequently made a joint site visit in May to Mariakani Dongo Kundu Transmission lines where stakeholders including the area chief, Madam Umanzi Mwangolo and 25 elders of Kaya Gandini led by Mr. Mwanamwenga Chigamba, Chairman of Kaya Gandini were present.

While addressing the Kaya members present, Manager Environmental Safeguards and Sustainability at KETRACO, Mr. Godana Ramat, said that beyond ensuring that the ecologically and culturally sensitive forest is not affected, stakeholders are invited to monitor the activities along the stretch in question during the construction phase of the project.

“KETRACO will assist in the recovery of any ecosystem that may be degraded due to its project construction as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact” Said Ramat Godana, Manager Environmental Safeguards.

National Focal Point for UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Mr. Hosea Wanderi expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the exercise undertaken to confirm that the Kaya Forest will not be affected in any way by the construction of the line.

Chairman of the Kaya elders Mr. Mwanamwenga Chigamba echoed Mr. Wanderi’s sentiments saying that KETRACO had done its due diligence and used a collaborative approach in putting the matter to rest.

“We the 25 elders of Kaya Gandini were involved from the start of this conversation, and we are happy that KETRACO has come back to reassure other stakeholders that Kaya Forest is not under threat of destruction as had earlier been reported.” Said Chigamba.
KETRACO has committed to, in collaboration with NLC, degazette the section in question as part of the project's wayleave.

Others who attended the various meetings on site included Coast Community Liasion Officer-NMK, Lawrence Chiro, NMK, John Musina- Research Scientist NMK, Harrison Odhiambo- Environmental Safeguards consultant (Nippon Koei Africa) and Joyce Owino- Social Safeguards consultant (Nippon Koei Africa), KETRACO's Senior Surveyor, Robert Kilimo.

The Mariakani Dongo Kondu 220kV project will improve the quality and reliability of power supplied to the Coast region, ensure efficient utilization of the 500kV Ethiopia-Kenya HVDC link and the imported power through the Suswa-Isinya Transmission Line and supply reliable power to the Special Economic Zone in Dongo-Kundu.