Police officers unhappy with pay hike, say it's too little for them

National Police Service new uniform, August 29, 2023. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Disquiet has met the pay rise within National Police Service with junior officers complaining what they were given is inconsequential. 

Citing high cost of living and huge financial obligations, grumbling Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) say the increment is a drop in the ocean.

Further, the officers say the increase is being swallowed by Housing Levy Fund, National Social Securities Fund (NSSF) and NHIF statutory deductions.

Basically, NCOs are constables, corporals, sergeants and senior sergeants who form the bulk of NPS, which comprise Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service with about 108,000 officers.

Their major role is beat patrols, controlling traffic, responding to distress calls and emergencies, and carrying out security operations to deter, detect and prevent crimes. In a nutshell, NCOs do the donkey work.

Observers have repeatedly argued that a well remunerated police service can lead to improved efficiency, less crimes, quick response and reduced cases of corruption among officers.

Improved pay would result into motivation, agility and commitment, according to Jeremiah Matagaro, a former police spokesman and now a senior official of National Association of Retired Police Officers – Kenya (NARPOK).

“The cost of living is high, and this is affecting them like everybody in society, better pay will enable them take their children to good schools, afford expenses of meeting their spouses who are isolated from them since most of them do not operate from their home areas,” observed Matagaro.

He said improvement of officers’ terms and conditions of service will be a morale booster, since most, especially junior ones, live in pathetic conditions.

However, when the new pay was announced last week, most junior officers felt short-changed accusing their employer, National Police Service Commission (NPSC) of bargaining for less on their behalf.

“There is nothing I benefitted from the pay rise; they gave with one hand and took away with the other,” summed up a constable while expressing the feeling among colleagues.

Constables got a pay increment of between Sh1,255 and Sh1,379, corporals (Sh1,379 and Sh1,479), sergeants (Sh1,379 and Sh1,479) while senior sergeants will get between Sh1,379 and Sh1,629.

“That is not what we expected, most of us are disappointed that the government is not keen on awarding us a better pay,” he lamented.

Having remained a constable for 36 years, the officer’s current basic pay is about Sh40,000. He says following the raise, he was deducted Sh1,900 for the housing levy and an addition Sh360 for NSSF bring total deductions to around Sh2,260.

“It is obvious the increment has no impact on my pay slip. I was given an increment of about Sh1,300 but they have taken away Sh2,260. We are upset that the government is playing monkey business with us,” said the 56-year-old officer, now disabled having been injured in line of duty.

Some officers interviewed expressed their disappointment, saying the increment was a slap in the face.

“This was not a pay rise but an insult to our intelligence. There was no need of purporting to increase our salaries when in actual sense it was just playing to the public gallery,” said a sergeant.

A comparison by The Standard of one of the pay slips for July and August show a Constable gained a mere Sh104 after the pay increase.

In July before the increase was made, the officer’s net salary was Sh18,885 after deductions. His basic pay is 25,460 with benefits of rental allowance (Sh9,500), commuter allowance (Sh3,000), housing supplementation (Sh3,000) and a police allowance of Sh9,000 all totaling to Sh49,960 as gross pay.

The deductions were pension Sh1,909, welfare sports Sh50, police sacco welfare Sh350, NSSF Sh360, PAYE Sh6,690, NHIF Sh1,100, police Sacco loan Sh18,615 and Sacco savings Sh2,000, all totaling to Sh31,075.

When total deductions were subtracted, the take home pay in July was Sh18,885.

Come August when pay rise was announced, his salary increased slightly to Sh18,989. The pay rose to Sh26,839 following the increment of Sh1,379. As the total earnings increased to Sh52,718 so were total deductions, which rose to Sh33,728, which include Sh1,581 housing levy reflected on the August payslip.

The officer’s pay as reflected on the slip is Sh18,989. When the July and August salaries are compared, the difference is Sh104.

Before the increment, a constable basic pay was Sh20,390, corporal Sh26,500, sergeant Sh36,450 and senior sergeant Sh40,270.

A chief inspector who is nearing retirement wondered why he is being deducted the housing levy, which he said will not benefit him since he has already made up his mind where he will settle after exiting.

“Why are they (government) bothering to deduct from me the housing levy when I am retiring in next two years. I don’t need a house that is not a priority to me. I would like to know clearly; how will I be refunded this money,” said the officer. NPSC chairperson Eliud Kinuthia was not available to respond to some grievances raised by officers. Several calls to his mobile phone went unanswered, and he had not responded to a text message by time of going to press.

The pay rise according to Kinuthia when he made the announcement, followed a conclusive job evaluation between his commission and Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). “We have participated fully with the SRC to ensure this is successful,” said Kinuthia when he unveiled the new pay structure for officers across all the ranks and civilian staff working in the service.

Kinuthia clarified that salary review did not include views from the retired Chief Justice David Maraga-led taskforce appointed to look into officers’ term of service. The NPSC boss maintained that the salary evaluation would have taken place with or without input of the taskforce. “There is a clear delineation of mandate between a constitutional commission and a taskforce. It would have happened whether or not the taskforce was in place or not,” he said.

When the commission appeared before the taskforce in February 2023, proposed a 79 per cent increment for constable while corporal (52 per cent), sergeant (30 per cent) and 33 per cent for senior sergeant.

The huge increment, the commission argued before the taskforce that collected views from the public and police, was to compensate for the long period officers have stagnated without basic salary review.

Should the recommendations by the taskforce, which is set to handover its report to President William Ruto, a constable’s gross pay will be Sh36,450, corporal (Sh40,270), sergeant (Sh47,290) while the improved pay of a senior sergeant will be Sh53,570.

“We had thought the pay rise would be hinged on what the commission proposed to the taskforce. With the announcement by Kinuthia, the taskforce has been pushed into a corner; we don’t expect much from Maraga’s report,” said an inspector.

The commission recommended to the taskforce, expansion and enhancement of extraneous allowance to cover formations and specialised units. Currently, extraneous allowance is payable to officers attached to Huduma Centers, GSU G Company and DCI officers attached at the Criminal Records Office.

The commission proposed an extraneous allowance of 50 per cent of basic salary for constable, corporal, sergeant and senior sergeant while 30 per cent for inspector, chief inspector, assistant superintendent of police, superintendent of police and senior superintendent of police.

Those in the ranks of Commissioner of Police, Assistant Inspector General, Senior Assistant Inspector General, Deputy Inspector General and Inspector General, NPSC proposed the top commanders receive an extraneous allowance of 20 per cent.