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Keep off guns issue, private security guards tell politicians

Friday August 9 2019

Security workers union boss Isaac Andabwa

Isaac Andabwa (C), Secretary-General of the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union, leads members in song in a show of solidarity at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu County on August 9, 2019. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DONNA ATOLA
By DONNA ATOLA
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Private security service providers have told off critics of the Private Security Regulations Act, 2016 which requires security guards to be provided with guns.

Isaac Andabwa, Secretary-General of the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union, said the gun issuance matter had been politicised.

He noted that not all security guards will be armed when the law that seeks to introduce a raft of reforms is implemented.

NEEDED TOOL

Mr Andabwa warned those politicising the matter, saying the law clearly stipulates what the tools of trade for the industry are.

“This includes pepper spray, not just guns. Let it be clear that not all security officers will be given guns as tools of trade," he said, noting that the determining factor is the type of assignment.

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“Simple assignments that do not pose security threats will not require guns but assignments such as transportation of money or guarding areas with high security threats will require [the weapons]."

Mr Andabwa dismissed the argument that cases of suicide and murder will increase once the firearms are issued, saying proper training will go a long way in prevent misuse of the weapons.

He also noted that the law, which is in line with the government's mission to fight terrorism and other crimes, will not see guards displace police as some critics say.

“Just like police we too need proper training. The matter of suicides and murders is a social problem that needs to be addressed across the society, not just among guards," he said.

THE RULES

In July, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i gazetted new regulations on the operations of firms licensed to offer security services.

The Private Security (General) Regulations, 2019 touches on nearly all aspects of the firms’ operations including staff recruitment, pay, training, licensing, handling equipment and personal safety.

New aspects of the regulations will see private security personnel enlisted by security agencies such as the National Police Service, to take part mainly in maintenance of law and order and prevention or mitigation of national disasters.

The regulations state, “With the approval of the National Security Council … the Inspector-General of the National Police Service or the Cabinet Secretary may, in accordance with Section 45 of the Private Security Regulations Act, 2016 require a private security provider to co-operate for purposes of maintenance of law and order; preventing or mitigating a national disaster; incident planning; sharing security information and sharing expertise and training."

The private security sector in the country has been growing since the near-collapse of public policing in the 1980s and 1990s and with attacks by terror group Al-Shabaab.