Security officers conducting the multi-agency security operation in Lamu’s Boni Forest are crying foul over unpaid hardship allowances.
The operation, conducted by various security agencies including the Kenya Defence Forces and various units of the National Police Service, seeks to flush out Al-Shabaab militants said to be hiding inside the dense forest.
In an interview with the Nation, some security officers accused the national government of failing to pay them hardship allowances and not providing them with enough facilitation.
The officers who sought anonymity said they have not received their hardship allowances for the past six months which accumulates to Sh 189,000 per officer.
“We have been abandoned here. We haven not been paid a single penny as hardship allowance since we set foot in this place. We have been undergoing a rough time since we joined the mission,” said an officer.
Over 3,000 officers are taking part in the mission.
Those interviewed said they were having a difficult time operating in the area, something that they said is also contributing to their suffering both mentally and emotionally.
Another officer said they have raised the issue with their bosses several times but their requests fell on deaf ears.
“Being part of this operation is a suicide mission and the least that our bosses can do is to give us our hardship allowances and stop sitting on that money,” said one officer.
In response, Boni Enclave Campaign Director Joseph Kanyiri said he was aware of the complaints but was quick to add that the matter is being addressed.
“This is an issue we are addressing in consultation with the Inspector-General of Police and they will be paid their allowances,” said Mr Kanyiri.
In the recent past, dozens of security officers and civilians have been attacked by the militants in various parts of Lamu and neighbouring Tana River and Garissa counties.
Members of the public, particularly those from the Boni minority community living in areas bordering the forest were recently incorporated in the operation in what is now referred to as the ‘Boni Enclave Campaign’.