Banks, shops, supermarkets and other private premises will soon be manned by armed security guards.
The Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) gave a green light to the private security officers to carry guns as the first line of defence against any incident.
The guards will have to go through a rigorous six-month mandatory training on the use and handling of guns.
According to authority Director General Fazul Mahamed, the private security officers will also go through counter terrorism training and a yearly refresher course.
Fazul was speaking yesterday after meeting a team of senior officials of private security associations in Nairobi.
He said the move is in line with the State’s directive in integrating national security.
“We have come up with a curriculum on the same which is expected to be launched in two weeks. Participants will also be taken through counter terrorism training,” said Fazul.
Training of instructors who will in turn train the private security officers is expected to be conducted in coming weeks. The authority has also undertaken to conduct a thorough vetting on the trainees.
While acknowledging that there might be some elements in the private security sector who may want to take advantage of the changes to engage in criminal activities, Fazul said the authority will put in place a regulation that requires security firms to have armories to help in the safe keeping of the firearms, and only to be used by an officer on duty.
“Fears of misuse of the arms will be guided by having an armory at every private security firm allowed to carry firearms. They will then have control over the guns and will be answerable for any eventuality,” he said. Interior CS Fred Matiang’i had in August 2018 directed the Private Security Regulatory Authority to start work immediately and ensure the welfare of the guards is looked into. While welcoming the move, Kenya National Private Security Workers Union (KENAPSWA), Secretary General Isaac Andabwa said the changes will go a long way in ensuring the safety of officers
“Most of the times our officers guard against armed robbers with rungus and clubs. But now we can conduct our duties diligently because we know we are safe,” said Andabwa. He added that the guards would only be given a certain caliber of firearms.
It is estimated that there are at least 500,000 private security guards in Kenya. Not all will be entitled to the firearms.
Andabwa said only those charged with guarding public institutions, hotels, malls, public places like parks, VIP protection, colleges and universities and cash on transit will be allowed to carry firearms.