BY CYRUS OMBATI
Council officials and police have been ordered to kick out hawkers and street families from Nairobi’s city centre and other major towns in new measures to beef up security and in particular terrorism.
The security officials are under instructions to ensure the targeted groups operate from designated areas to monitor security.
This, according to the Office of the President, follows intelligence reports that terror groups plan to use the traders and street families to plant explosives on vital installations and social places. In Nairobi, the operation began a week ago and police said on Tuesday they had arrested more than 100 traders who defied their directives for them to operate from Muthurwa and Tsunami areas in the city.
Nairobi Area police boss Anthony Kibuchi noted the order would be enforced to ensure the city is safe inspite of some of the politicians’ protests. “We know this is an election year and some politicians are using the traders as a bait to gain politically by allowing them on the streets at the expense of our security. We will not accept that,” he said. Kibuchi added special squads are to be formed to deal with the hawking menace and street families. The National Security Advisory Committee met two weeks ago following a High Court ruling that lifted the ban on Mombasa Republican Council and issued the directive.
The meeting at Harambee House, Nairobi, was chaired by acting head of public service Francis Kimemia and attended by defence minister Yusuf Haji, National Security Intelligence Service director General Michael Gichangi, Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere, Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi and permanent secretaries Mutea Iringo (Internal Security), Thuita Mwangi (Foreign Affairs) and Emmanuel Kisombe of Immigration, among others. Iringo said he had relayed the information to the relevant authorities and expects its implementation to ensure the country is safe.
Apart from Nairobi council officials in Meru have also started to move the traders out of the Central Business District, which angered some of them. Officials argue the move is aimed at enabling security agencies to intensify surveillance and information gathering in crowded areas. The meeting also resolved to fast track the first phase of installing close circuit television cameras in Nairobi to enhance security at a cost of Sh350 million.
The installation, meant to boost security in major cities, is expected to be extended to Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyeri, Meru and Mombasa.
On Tuesday, Kibuchi said police are now patrolling major shopping malls, supermarkets and other installations to inspect how security guards there behave.
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