By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27
The proposal to issue guns to the private security guards as part of a new strategy to combat various forms of crime has elicited mixed reactions from people of all walks of life.
Majority have expressed their dissatisfaction saying the move will be more disastrous given the current conditions of the guards. They have claimed they have no experience and training in handling huge security threats like fighting terrorists.
“We do not have a legal framework to address the matter. Furthermore, most private security guards do not have sufficient paramilitary training,” said legislator Martha Wangari.
Salary issue is another factor why majority want the guards to be hindered from owning a gun. They believe they can misuse guns, comprise security issues and become thugs due to little salary they are being paid.
However, a handful of Kenyans have thrown their weight behind the suggestion noting that the guards should be armed so as they can engage the armed robbers or terrorists.
“They are always the first people to respond whenever there is a crime. How do you expect them to protect lives and property if they are not armed?” said People’s power lobby chairman Jesse Karanja.
The Director General of Private Security Regulatory Authority, Fazul Mahamad on January 19, revealed the government plans to arm guards to enhance security in the country. He disclosed the government will vet them and security companies to weed out criminals in the industry before issuing them with license.
Fazul added that the government will ensure the guards receive better terms of employment to make them suitable to own guns.
“We are going to be issuing firearms to security guards and also ensure their welfare is catered for including minimum wage bill in line with Employment Act 2007,” reiterated Fazul.
The Employment Act 2007 sets the benchmark for what is acceptable in regards to terms and conditions of employment and conduct of the parties in the employment relationship. It gives employers liberty at deciding on what he pays their employees but giving less is illegal.
In May 2018, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i also announced plans to arm the security guards to handle rise of insecurity.
“We have seen whenever there is a security incident in the country, the first line of defense is usually the private security officers. If we trust you to take care of such huge key strategic installations in this country, then we should be able to also trust you with firearms,” he said.
He hinted at withdrawal of armed police from the Cash Transit Business leaving the work of securing the firms to their guards. He assured their top managers that the government will issue gun licenses to vetted companies who will be required to arm their workers. He ordered the Private Security Regulatory Authority to ensure the welfare of guards is looked into.