The announcement by the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) last Friday that private security guards will be armed has drawn mixed reactions.
Three lawmakers asked the Fazul Mohamed-led authority to establish a regulatory framework before arming the guards.
“We do not have a legal framework to address the matter. Furthermore, most private security guards do not have sufficient paramilitary training.
“The government can explore the possibility of engaging National Youth Service (NYS) graduates and enact a law requiring private security firms to employ NYS graduates since they have paramilitary training,” said Gilgil MP Martha Wangari.
Her Nakuru Town West counterpart, Mr Samuel Arama, also opposed the move, saying, it will increase the number of guns in civilian hands.
His views were echoed by Lugari MP Ayub Savula, who suggested a mandatory six-month training for the guards before they are armed.
He said PSRA should present a regulatory framework for the issuing of guns to Parliament for approval before such a move is made.
“Let PSRA present the regulations to Parliament so that we can streamline them to ensure that guns are not given out without proper guidelines.
Laws must be enacted so that guns are not used for criminal activities,” Mr Savula said.
Meanwhile, the Peoples’ Power Watch lobby group said the guards should be armed, with its chairman, Mr Jesse Karanja, calling for speeding up of the process.
“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?”
He wants the guards trained on gun use and vetted before they are armed so that they can complement police efforts in reducing crime.
In recent months, at least eight security guards have been killed and others injuries after being attacked by criminals.
In May last year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i told private security firms that the government would withdraw armed police officers from the Cash-in-Transit (CIT) business soon.
He said private security guards were to be issued with guns by July last year, in a move aimed at tackling various forms of crimes.
Dr Matiang’i told managers of the firms the government would issue gun licences to vetted companies that would in turn arm their personnel to offer security.
There are about 2,000 officers assigned to various security companies running CIT businesses.
Matiang’i made the remarks when he met members of PSRA.
He made orders to have the authority start its work immediately and ensure better welfare of guards.
He also revealed that his ministry intends to have centralised data of all guards and similar uniform by the end of the year, adding that the firms would have a centralised command centre to monitor their areas of operation as part of efforts to deal with all forms of crimes.
PSRA was tasked to come up with regulations to guide who will be granted a permit to carry weapons.