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Uhuru commissions armoured vehicles for the GSU to combat terrorism and organised crime

By Cyrus Ombati | February 1st 2016

The General Service Unit has received more than 30 newly imported Armoured Personnel Carriers to help in the fight against interior terrorism and organised crime.

The vehicles were delivered to GSU headquarters on Saturday after they had been shipped into the country from China at an unknown cost.

President Kenyatta commissioned the vehicles Monday at a low-key event attended by Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet.

They were driven aboard trailers under escort of armed GSU personnel to GSU headquarters where they were unveiled by top officers.

Excited Kenyans captured images of the carriers as they were being driven in traffic jam along Uhuru Highway, Nairobi.

Officials said they would be deployed to main border areas, especially the Kenya-Somalia one, to help in the fight against terrorism. More than 20 security personnel have died in cross border attacks by Al-Shabaab terrorists.

The latest was last week in Lamu where seven officers were killed after their vehicle ran over an Improvised Explosive Device.

It is only the military that has APCs and the arrival of the police ones is seen as a positive move.

The arrival of the APCs came a week after President Kenyatta had announced police would get them to enhance their fight on organized crime and terrorism.

The president said it would be the first time that police will get the APCs.

"Kenya police force will for the first time in history acquire armoured personnel carriers to increase their mobility and protective gear when deployed in volatile areas," Uhuru said.

“You don’t have to depend on the military or other security agents for you to perform your duties, we will ensure you are properly equipped.”

He made the remarks at a police meeting where they told him their immediate needs were houses and good salaries.

The acquisition of the APCs has been shrouded with secrecy led by Office of the President mandarins who cite security as the reason for not revealing what it took to have them.

The president told police the government is engaging the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to address the salary issues and promised to upgrade their equipment.

He said more houses will be provided for the service to cater for their needs.

Major police reforms that had been proposed have stalled because of lack of funding.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery has insisted the police reform programme is still on course.

The need for police reform was reinforced by recommendations made by the Waki Commission of Inquiry into the 2007 Post-election Violence.

It was also prompted by the need for officers to be equipped to combat insecurity and other forms of emerging security problems occasioned by national and international threats like terrorism, piracy, organised gangs, drug and human trafficking, industrial espionage, cyber crime, money laundering, and economic crimes.

Nkaissery had last week visited Jordan to oversee the acquisition and delivery of police hardware of unknown amount of money.

The hardware expected include guns, bullet proof vests, night vision goggles which are effective in operations and search and rescue missions at night and other equipment aimed at modernizing the police.

Kenyatta said the government has also purchased a new helicopter to be delivered by June and two other MI-17 helicopters are being refurbished to improve police ability to quickly move troops to any trouble spot and generally improve their mobility.

The National Police- both regular and Administration Police airwing currently has 14 aircrafts- six fixed wing and eight helicopters that provide air support to ground forces including tactical reconnaissance, night reconnaissance, air observation, and casualty evacuation, especially in remote areas.

The Agusta Westlands, an Italian Company was paid Sh683 million in the 2014/2015 financial year for the helicopter that can cruise up to 300kph.

10 pilots and six engineers were trained in at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Italy for three months and have already reported back to the unit ahead of the delivery.

It has a capacity of 15 passengers and can take off and land on autopilot as so long as the right information is given.

It is a twin-engine helicopter that has an endurance of six hours, which means it can remain airborne for at least six hours without refuelling, and has a capacity for a vertical take off with just one engine with a full load at high altitudes.

The police department is undergoing modernization with a new command, control and communication (IC3) centre at Jogoo House with 1,800 cameras installed in major places in Nairobi and Mombasa set to be rolled out.

 New police pocket phones linked to the IC3 have been rolled out and are in use with more than 3,000 officers being trained on the new technology.

Police are currently using more than 2,000 assorted vehicles acquired through a lease agreement with major vehicle dealers.

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