Private security companies up in arms protesting proposed regulations

Thursday, January 9th, 2020 20:43 |
Security guards, Photo/Courtesy

The private security industry has defended itself from accusations it pockets billions of shillings as thousands of guards who are its members sleep hungry.

Cosmas Mutava, the Protective Security Industry Association (PSIA) chairman said that whereas the Security Industry has been painted as a cash minting Industry, things on the ground are different.

He is arguing that the cost of fees and licensing under the new Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) are not only prohibitively high, but also has too much duplication in the licensing cost for security provision business.

“There are too many annual licenses in place, for instance, the 9 City County licenses charged for security provision in Nairobi is Sh175,000, while in other counties it is not less than Sh50,000 similar to what the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) charges,” Mutava said.

The Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services (DOSH) license and audit, charges Sh100, 000, while the inspection of one security vehicle goes for Sh2, 500 each, and branding per car and motorcycles are not less than Sh20, 000.

Other licenses include that of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) that goes for about Sh100,000, while the National Construction Authority (NCA) license charged at a minimum of Sh50,000.

Mutava is concerned that whereas the proposed reforms were not consultative, the additional cost of compliance with the new PSRA regulation that comes with them, is prohibitive.

“In the new regulations, private security companies are required to pay Sh2 million for Armored vehicle conversion and Sh1.2 million for insurance, while the cost of vetting employees afresh as per part IV section 18 of new PSRA Regulations, is high,” he added even as Interior Principal Secretary, Karanja Kibicho, maintained that the private security firms were pocketing a lot of money at the expense of the poor guard.

“We have the responsibility to look at both the interests of the guards and the employer. It is not fair that the consumers pay Sh50,000 but guards get only Sh5,000 from the companies,” he told journalists recently.

The mandatory training of over 500,000 guards and their relievers as per part IV section 19 of new PSRA Regulations requires is also another concern for PSIA.

“We request the government to come out clear on who will bear the cost of retraining all the guards because that will be untenable with the current arrangement and what clients pay to security companies,” Mutava appealed.

Other issues that are of concern to the private security include; change of uniform including additional rebranding as per part V section 20 of new PSRA Regulations; upgrading security equipment as per part V section 21of new PSRA Regulations; annual calibration of equipment as per part IV of new PSRA Regulations, upgrading of the; control rooms, vaults, rapid response vehicles, and communication tools as per part IV of new PSRA Regulations;  and the cost of co-operation with national security Agencies at employers cost as per part VI section 25 & 26 of new PSRA Regulations.

“The private security industry has been under threat of mass closure recently following the anticipated vetting of security firms. While the reforms are welcome, it may take longer to realise some of them as some sticky issues still remain unresolved,” he said in a statement.

The debate, however, has been the order by the government to increase the minimum wage paid to guards. PSIA states that it cannot be realised because of the amount paid per guard by clients including the government and its agencies.

He added that security companies are spending an average of Sh15,000 as costs on every single guard and called for a review of taxation model.

“Who is paying any security company Sh50,000 to assure that if we raise the minimum payment then we shall have any money remaining?” posed Mutava.

He argues that most Kenyans earn less than Sh100,000 which means they will be forced to give more than half of their salaries to security companies to pay guards if the regulations are passed.

“Why are we maintaining the guards as the cost of Redundancy in the Labour laws is too costly, that is; 12 months payment among others. Employers in the security Industry have a humane feeling for our employees and cannot put them on the streets because of poor government legislation. We propose an annual license of Sh50, 000 per company,” he said.

He proposed to the government to categorise the Private Security Guards as; Category A, to cover high risk and expensive installations that have specific duties; Category B to cover lesser risk areas, scope of work and conditions on the ground, while Category C should cover medium-class clients within major towns covering but not limited to schools, churches, and residential quarters.                           

“Category D should cover villages and local areas to secure low-cost schools, churches and residential quarters,” he said.

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