“Private security officers, as they are known today, are the front-line of our country’s defence. Before a Police Officer responds to a crisis, a private security officer is already there, protecting our citizens.”-H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On 22/12/2016, H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, invited members of the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union for a meeting at State House grounds. Over 4,000 private security officers drawn from various members of the Kenya Security Industry Association, including 250 officers from Securex Agencies (K) LTD, were present for the historic occasion as this was the first time in history that private security workers had been granted audience with the Head of State. Also in attendance were the Cabinet Secretaries for the Ministries of Defence, Joseph Nkaissery and Labour, Phyllis Kandie; as well as the Inspector-General of Police, Joseph Boinnet and Nominated Member of Parliament, Johnson Sakaja.
The forum presented the union, through its Secretary General, Isaac Andabwa, with the opportunity to thank the President and the Government for their contribution towards the regulation of the Private Security industry. The industry currently employs approximately 400,000 security officers, which represents nearly 16% of the total population of citizens under formal employment in the country. Mr. Andabwa was quick to note the vital contribution that the sector plays in helping run Kenya’s economy:
“Previously and throughout time, we have always been identified as ‘watchmen’. From 18th May however, with the Presidential Assent to the Private Security Industry Regulation Act, we are now formally recognized as ‘Private Security Officers’ under the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government. Without regulation in the industry we have had some of our members’ welfare overlooked by briefcase firms that do not adhere to principles such as that of minimum wage. Through this Act we will be able to better the lives of not only the 400,000 officers across the country but their families and dependants as well. The Private Security Regulatory Authority should begin their operations like yesterday to clean up our sector.”
Hon. Johnson Sakaja on his part commended the private security sector for their role in keeping the country safe, noting that the gap between the sector and the state security agencies was one which needed to be bridged as soon as possible.
“These officers are on the ground protecting us every day. They guard just about every facility, from hotels, to embassies to our residential estates. Intelligence begins with the over 400,000 officers in Kenya today. These officers know every minute detail from who comes home late, to who didn’t come home today, who looks suspicious within their areas of jurisdiction and so on. The missing link, information-sharing between the Police and the private security community needs to be filled.”
Hon. Sakaja went on to propose a partnership between the private security community and the National Youth Service to further empower officers with skills they could find useful outside the workplace.
“We should find a way to enter into an agreement with the N.Y.S so that we can also provide vocational training for our officers on a rotational basis. These are skills that will enrich their lives as well.”
When the President took to the podium, he only had kind words to say about our work in keeping the country safe over the years.
“Today, we are here to first recognize and appreciate the good work that you have been doing, protecting this country and sometimes putting your own life on the line even when facing armed opposition. You are our first line of defence in counter-terrorism and we acknowledge your importance to this nation.”
The President went on to speak about the Private Security Industry Regulation Act, noting that the Act ushers in a new era for the industry. He also read the riot act on unscrupulous firms that were operating illegally or in contravention to the Act and the country’s labour laws, mainly with regards to the minimum wage policy.
“On 18th May, we begun the journey that we have waited for since independence. As a Government, we are fast-tracking the implementation of the new law. I have already appointed a Chairman for the regulatory authority, Mr. Amos Ntimama, and I have nominated members of the Board of Directors as well. We have also drafted a standardized training manual which all private security officers will be required to undergo before being registered and licensed by the Authority. Once proper training has been done, we can then look at ways of further equipping a portion of our private security officers as we do the Police.”
He then gave a directive that all security firms that do not meet the minimum wage requirements be shut down with immediate effect by the Ministry of Labour.
“We now have a law that prescribes the remuneration for our officers. Any firms that are not adhering to this policy must be closed down with immediate effect. If there are any companies in this sector that are not willing to meet the minimum wage requirements they should shut themselves down before we do.”
In conclusion, the President encouraged the Interior C.S and Inspector General of Police to establish closer ties with the industry for the benefit of the common mwananchi.
“With better coordination between the Government and this industry, I believe we can make this industry up to ten times safer. The Police and private security officers should work as brothers-in-arms, putting the country’s interests ahead of their own.”