There is disquiet in the police service after the new house allowance they were promised was substantially reduced — in many cases by half for those in the lower cadres.
Officers who spoke to Sunday Nation in confidence said they were having difficulties finding suitable accommodation in major cities such as Nairobi where rents are high.
The officers, who have been living in government houses for free, are required to vacate them by the end of this month or continue staying there but pay rent from their allowances.
In its initial plan, the Ministry of Interior categorised the housing allowance into three clusters.
Those in cluster one are police officers based in Nairobi who were initially scheduled to get Sh18,124.
Those in cluster two are police officers based in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu and Meru, who were supposed to get Sh13,124.
Cluster three has police officers based in the rest of the country, who were supposed to get an allowance of Sh8,124.
But according to the Interior Ministry, the figures were reviewed by the Salary and Remuneration Commission (SRC), the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Treasury.
This was done after it emerged that the government policy dictates that allowances should not be half of what employees earn as basic salary.
The bulk of police officers are constables — the lowest rank. The lowest paid officer now earns Sh19,290, following a slight increment last September.
After the consultations by SRC, PSC and National Police Service (NPS), the latter issued a notice on new house allowances plus an introduction of commuter allowance.
Following the review of house allowances, an officer of the rank of sergeant in Nairobi will earn Sh9,800 as house allowance and an additional Sh4,000 as commuter allowance.
Sergeants in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Eldoret, Kisii, Kitale, Kakamega and Malindi will receive a house allowance of Sh7,300.
A senior sergeant in Nairobi will receive a house allowance of Sh15,700, Sh4,000 for commuter allowance.
Those in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Eldoret, Kisii, Kitale, Kakamega and Malindi will get Sh11,300.
Officers in other regions saw their allowances slashed to Sh5,500.
The Sunday Nation has learnt that all the officers would also get a housing supplementation allowance to cater for water and electricity bills.
Currently, out of an estimated 98,000 police officers, only those above the rank of inspector earn house allowances.
The rest are supposed to be housed by the government, which has resulted in a crisis.
The government will use Sh10 billion for commuter and house allowance.
Despite the new introduction of commuter allowance, police officers are still unhappy, saying the amount is little.
An officer who spoke to Sunday Nation in confidence said his commuter allowance was only Sh3,000 yet he had opted to live in an area where he would use Sh8,000 in transport to work per month.
“I cannot live in a bad place just because the commuter allowance is low. I will have to sacrifice, which will be a challenge to me,” he said.
The officer said it would have been fair if the initial house allowances were maintained.
Paying junior officers house allowances would save the government between Sh2 billion to Sh3 billion that is spent on electricity, water and other bills, and more than Sh1 billion on leasing houses.
Another junior officer said he had been given Sh8,150 house allowance rather than Sh11,000 that he was expecting and had budgeted for.
He said he was also denied the housing supplementation. “This state of affairs will make some of us live in slums, where we will be exposed to danger by the same criminals we are fighting,” he said.
An officer in Kisii said she was yet to get a house to move in to as most were too expensive for her to let.
In Kisii, a one bedroom house goes for between Sh8,000 and Sh12,000, which she said was too expensive for her.
“The allowance is Sh7,000 and getting a one bedroom house in Kisii Town will require me to part with more money. It is going to be a tough challenge for me,” she said.