Police chiefs unable to find fabric for latest uniform

IG Joseph Boinnet in his new national police uniform in his Nairobi office on Tuesday. [File, Standard]
The material used to make the new police uniform is unavailable, just three months after President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled the new gear.

Yesterday, police chiefs were working extra hard to secure the fabric ahead of this week's deadline for officers to wear the new Persian blue uniforms.

However, it emerged that the material was unavailable even as security bosses visited various textile factories.

The uniform crisis adds to simmering discontent over house allowances for police officers.

Won't move

Some officers have reportedly vowed not to move out of Government houses at the end of the month, claiming their reduced pay is insufficient to rent decent houses.

Yesterday, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and Interior Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho were spotted at the Rivatex factory in Eldoret, where they had gone to look for the fabric.

The Government team is also said to have scouted for the material at the Rivatex outlet in Nakuru County, several factories in Thika and another in Nairobi.

The spectacle of the top security officials touring the factories in search of the materials as the Government works to quickly roll out of the production lines for the new uniforms underlined the urgency with which the matter is being treated in Government.

It has emerged that there is a general shortage for that specific fabric. Reports indicated that the one used to make the few uniforms donned by top officials was imported.

From another country

"The materials NYS are using to make the new uniforms were sourced from another country, which is contrary to a presidential directive. That is why the PS is out there looking for help to address the crisis," said an informed source who asked not to be named.

Dr Kibicho refused to talk to the section of media that caught up with him at a factory in Nakuru. His handlers said the media had not been invited.

While unveiling the new uniform, the President ordered that the material be locally sourced.

The President’s directive for all officers to wear the new uniforms during Jamhuri Day celebrations was not realised over what was termed logistical hiccups.

The President unveiled the uniform on September 13 as part of planned reforms in the National Police Service.

The change in police uniform is also a recommendation from the United Nations, as a way of increasing the visibility of officers and making them accountable.

So far, only a handful of officers have the new uniform. They are mainly those in senior ranks.

Worst hit are officers in the lower cadres, as they are not certain when the new official police uniform will be provided.

At both police headquarters at Vigilance House and Jogoo House, officers are complaining that they are yet to receive tailors to take their measurements. This is despite a directive from Boinnet that all officers at the police headquarters should put on the new attire.

Given fabric

Officers from the ranks of Inspector of Police upwards are provided with fabric at the police stores in Industrial Area to make the attire while those in lower ranks are provided with full uniforms.

So far, only Boinnet and his deputy Edward Mbugua and a few other commanders have donned the new uniform.

On Jamhuri Day, even general duty officers were expected to don the new attire that has attracted mixed reactions from Kenyans.

According to the new police structure, all officers, right from Police Constable to Inspector General, will wear same colour and quality and only ranks and equivalent decorations will differentiate them.

General Duty officers will wear deep blue working dress and jacket while the ceremonial uniform will be Navy Blue.

The service is banking on the new uniform, which is one of the reform strategies to help positively transform its image.

Other remarkable reforms achieved for the last five years include revision of police training curriculum, new police Service Standing Orders, improved police welfare through a modernisation programme that has enhanced terms of service and work as well as living conditions.

There is also a new housing policy and police medical cover.

NYS tasked

The National Youth Service (NYS) has been tasked to make the new uniforms.

Boinnet said they decided to have NYS sew the uniforms to save costs in manufacturing the attire for more than 60,000 officers.

A deal was signed together with the acting NYS director general Matilda Sakwa ending lobbying from merchants who wanted to be rewarded the tender. It is not clear how much the police will pay for the work.

A team popularly known as Uniform Committee arrived at the deep blue colour as the one to be used by General Duty personnel.

A member of the team said given the Administration Police is joining the Kenya Police Service, it was prudent for them to have the new attire as well.

The new structure will see 24,572 APs join Kenya Police to form a General Duty Police under the command of the Deputy Inspector General of Police. This will make a 65,000-man strong team.

The changes, to be rolled out over the next three years, will see the Kenya Police focus on public security and safety while the AP will focus on protective and border security.

Criminal investigations

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations will concentrate on criminal investigations.

The President said the changes were aimed at eliminating overlapping and duplication of functions.

The officers who will be affected will be redeployed at the regional and police headquarters.

Boinett has said the new uniform was there to stay despite harsh criticism from the public and some officers.

However, he said he was open to ideas on how to perhaps modify the uniforms.

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