Kenyan authorities said on Tuesday they have drafted a Bill to set up a special unit to protect critical infrastructure in the East African nation.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i said the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill to be presented to parliament is aimed at deterring the destruction, damages or vandalism of key infrastructures.
"Our development and attraction of investors hinges on the protection of our critical infrastructure. That's how we ensure fuel moves from Mombasa to other parts of the country, detect and act on terrorism threats or communicate. Better coordination will lead to better investment and fair prices transferred to the people," Matiang'i told journalists in Nairobi.
He said the unit is proposed by a bill formulated to look into the protection of critical infrastructure, and will be domiciled at the Ministry of Interior.
"This is aimed at ensuring full coordination as well as enforcement of the regulations in both national and county government," said Matiang'i.
The unit is tasked with the responsibility of coordinating, approving, designing, planning, deploying, and maintaining crucial infrastructure with powers to issue penalties to defaulters.
Critical Infrastructure Assets are identified as physical and virtual assets or facilities, owned by either private or public entities which are essential to the provision of vital services, and which if destroyed, degraded or rendered unavailable, would impact on the social or economic well-being of the nation or affect Kenya's ability to conduct national defense and security.
The critical infrastructure sectors have faced tremendous challenges that have undermined their efforts in delivering services to the people of Kenya.
Some have no legal framework guiding their development while others lack the inter-ministerial or inter-agency implementation mechanism that would assist them maximize on each other's strengths.
The draft bill has also proposed creation and maintenance of critical infrastructure register with a database of all infrastructures that stakeholders can refer to.
According to sources, the government and private sector players lose an estimated 20 million U.S. dollars annually arising from various forms of damage and degradation to infrastructure in Kenya.
"This figure does not include indirect losses such as loss of business or losses arising from the denial of citizens of essential services, which would aggravate the situation," Matiang'i said.
He was speaking in Nairobi where the taskforce tasked with developing the bill handed over the Draft Infrastructure Protection Bill to him.
Matiang'i will then present the bill to the Attorney General for refining before being passed over to Cabinet and Parliament for discussion and enactment and will become law after the Presidential assent.
They cover crucial assets in electricity, roads and infrastructure, Information, Communication and technology, Security and energy sectors.
Once in force, the Inspector General of police will have special mandate to provide for the supervision, surveillance and prosecution of those who destroy these critical assets.
The highest penalty for those who bridge the law is a fine of not less than 50,000 dollars or an imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 years.
"We will be raising awareness among Kenyans on the need to safeguard the assets. There will be personal liability for those who willingly on unwillingly damage critical infrastructure for example knocking down traffic lights," Kariuki said.