Third Eye

Kenya needs policy on VIP security arrangements

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 02:00 |
DP Ruto shares cup of tea with his newly deployed AP officers in Karen. PHOTO: Courtesy

The recent altercation between the Deputy President William Ruto and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government over the latter’s security deployment revealed that Kenya lacks a policy or law on guarding the VVIP and VIP personnel.

This is sad considering the huge number of State and public officers falling in VVIP and VIP categories in a country that the ratio between police officers and the population is wanting.

At the ratio of 1:1,150 police-population, Kenya ranks poorly based on the United Nations recommended rate of 1:450.

There is need for a policy or law that should limit and dictate the redeployment of security personnel to guard both the private and public interests of State officers to avoid abuse. 

It should also demarcate between the private and public interests as it clearly emerged that Ruto’s large number of security officers is attributed to his vast business empire.

Private security, which is currently undergoing some reforms, can be engaged to guard private interests of State and public officers. 

The government, however, has a major role to play in fast tracking the ongoing reforms in provision of private security to make it an attractive alternative.

Given the shortage of police officers, private security firms appear to be a timely and crucial solution.

Since 2016 when the government enacted a law to regulate private security service providers after a three decades hiatus, the government has accelerated several activities that culminated in the recent kick-off of the vetting of 2,000 registered firms.

This clearly testifies that this sector, which had grown unregulated despite its sensitive role, is emerging to be very vital for the country and demands a policy intervention that can package it for a complementary role.

According to Kenya Private Security Regulatory Authority, only 10 per cent of firms had met the minimum threshold set by the government. This is despite its enormous size. 

By 2019, about 1,000 operating firms, offering a diversified range of services in security, directly employed over 500,000 people, with an estimated annual turnover of over Sh300 billion.

Because of the waning ability by the State to provide the overwhelming protection demanded by all citizens through the police, who also provide a wide-range of other crucial services, Kenyans have resorted to private firms and vigilante groups to bridge the gap.

This has seen the private sector security emerge as one of the fastest growing service industries in Kenya in recent years. 

A Baseline Study on the Private Security Industry in Kenya carried out by the Usalama Reforms Forum in 2019 revealed that the demand of private security services in Kenya is highest in cities.

About 53 per cent of the demand was in Nairobi, 23 per cent  in Mombasa and 10 per cent Kisumu in 2019.

With a sound policy in place, the government would be able to offer incentives and other support services to help local security firms grow as an alternative measure. — The writer is a public policy analyst  [email protected]

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