Housing cash deal for junior officers

Officers’ quarters at Karatina Police station in Mathira, Nyeri County. [File, Standard]
The National Treasury has agreed to pay house allowances for 70,000 junior police officers.

Out of an estimated 98,000 police officers, only those with the rank of inspector and above earn house allowances.

The rest are supposed to be housed by the Government but this arrangement has resulted in a long-standing accommodation crisis that has left many police officers living in poor conditions.

According to an official in the police service, the decision to pay house allowances would save the Government at least Sh3 billion – Sh2 billion that is spent on electricity, water and other bills, and more than Sh1 billion on leasing houses.

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The Government pays up to Sh28,000 for very house leased for police officers.

Personnel from the General Service Unit, Rapid Deployment Unit, Rural Border Patrol Unit, Presidential Escort Unit and those in training colleges will not benefit from the proposed allowances.

Housing crisis

Instead, they will earn special allowances that they can also use to pay for accommodation, the official said.

The office of the Inspector General had dispatched teams to go round the country and collect views from officers on housing. The team is expected to present a report next month.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday ordered Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to give him a report within 30 days on how the housing crisis can be resolved.

The Government said it would allocate more resources to the National Police Service modernisation programme to give the force the ability to neutralise all forms of threats.

Deplorable conditions

In 2016, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) asked the Government to stop providing police officers with housing and instead give them allowances.

The Ipoa study recommended that the only exceptions should be specialised paramilitary police units, and officers in remote areas where houses may not be readily available.

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Ipoa said more than 63,000 police officers were living in deplorable conditions, and that this was affecting their morale.

Former Ipoa chairman Macharia Njeru described the situation as dire.

The authority has now advised Treasury and the Ministry of Interior to develop and implement a National Police Service housing policy.

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