During the day they are always in suits around Very Important Personalities (VIPs), clearing the way for them and making sure they are safe as they (VIPs) build the nation. But after their part in ‘building the nation’, they retreat to their humble abode situated between Highrise and Ufunguo estates along Mbagathi Road.
Life for police officers at the Uhuru SGB (Security of Government Buildings) camp is unbearable. Yet it is home to hundreds of AP officers who guard or chauffeur top government officials, Cabinet Secretaries and MPs.
“People think we have good lives when they see us dressed in suits accompanying these politicians, but the bitter truth is that our lives are a nightmare,” says a constable, who preferred anonymity.
The camp is a collection of triangular shaped structures with families crammed together. Lucky officers have been allocated space in the structures made up of stone-base and walled with iron sheets.
The unlucky majority live in dusty rooms where they are forced to crawl in as they can’t stand upright owing to the height of the structures, which can get unbearably hot or cold depending with the season.
They have to make do with communal bathrooms and toilets, which are perennially without water. Our guide explains that they have to make do with the situation like “sharing bathrooms used by more than 500 every day”. He adds: “Due to lack of sanitary disposal sets in the toilets we share, some women dispose their pads in the bathrooms. It is disgusting.”
Three to five officers share the mabati houses nicknamed ‘tanks’ while those who are married share two families per ‘tank’ separated by curtains.
“Even doing some things in private is difficult because you fear waking up your neighbour or children,” said an officer who lives in a shared ‘tank’ with his wife and two children.
The ‘tank’ is also turned into a bathroom for officers in a hurry since the queue at the communal bathroom is too long.