“We have put in place elaborate operation plans to be executed by security agencies. From the security point of view, we are paying a lot of attention to the elections,” Karanja Kibicho, Interior Ministry Principal Secretary.
With only days to go until the August 8th polls, security over the electioneering polls has emerged as a prime concern for everyone, from the common mwananchi to Kenya’s vibrant private sector. The disappearance and subsequent murder of the IEBC’s ICT Manager Chris Msando, for instance, has raised questions among the electorate over security in the coming month.
However, according to the Ag. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, this has been the most peaceful pre-election period in the country’s history. Indeed, according to an opinion poll done by Ipsos Synovate, 81% of the 4,308 respondents sampled reported noting no electoral violence in their areas of residence.
Most of the country is still in high gear as far as preparing for the upcoming polls is concerned. The adoption of a “wait-and-see” mentality by the larger business community is becoming more apparent by the day, and a number of corporates have gone about establishing risk mitigation measures for that extra layer of security of their assets over this period.
What about the private security industry? What does “election preparedness” mean for a private security firm? According to Tony Sahni, the Chief Executive Officer at Securex, it is more vital than ever before that private security firms do their utmost to be there for their clients to assure them of their safety.
“We maintain confidence in the measures the government of the day has taken to ensure citizens’ safety before, during and after the polls. On our part, we are looking to reassure our clients of their security over this critical period by being there for them and showing that we care,” Mr. Sahni said.
This does, however, also present the added weight of responsibility on the shoulders of the private security sector, as is expounded on by John Ogutu, the Securex Senior Operations Manager.
“While we believe that all will be well beyond August 8th, there also is merit to the school of thought that it is safer to be prepared for any eventuality. For us, we have a dual responsibility to the Securex Family, which comprises both staff and our clients. Our aim over this period is to watch over both and keep them safe,” Mr. Ogutu added.
The heightened sense of the need for security over this period has seen us step up our recruitment efforts to bolster our ranks in recent weeks. We have also put internal mechanisms in place to cater for any requests for additional security over the electioneering period. Beyond this, up to 300 guards are taken through refresher training each month to cover critical skills such as incident management and response, emergency rescue and evacuation procedures.
“We have identified security awareness and incident response as two critical areas of concern that we aim to cover over the election period. This is why we have increased our coordination with the Police in recent weeks. This will allow us to enhance our intelligence-gathering networks as well as enhance our response by increasing the number of our emergency response units reinforced with armed escort,” Mr. Ogutu noted.
As far as communication goes, we’ve been doing our utmost to keep clients and the general public aware of all that’s been happening with regards to security during the elections.
“We’ve been keeping clients informed through our daily and weekly security briefings and social media to send instant alerts as well. We’ve also shared a wealth of content on safety over the campaigns through our blog. More importantly, our 24-hour Customer Support hotline will remain open over this coming week, just to assure our clients that we are there for them,” Mr. Ogutu said.
“Beyond anything, we would like to assure our clients that we are there for them, whatever it takes, and the general public that so long as we uphold our love of peace and desire to see this country prosper, nothing will go wrong,” Mr. Sahni concluded.