Shame of Kenyan police officers forced to convert cells into living quarters

The state of housing at Karatina police station in Mathira, Nyeri. Thousands of police officers who risk their lives to protect Kenyans and their property are living and working in deplorable conditions. (PHOTO: KIBATA KIHU/ STANDARD)

Thousands of police officers who risk their lives to protect Kenyans and their property are living and working in deplorable conditions.

A survey across the country reveals that some police officers have converted police cells into living quarters, while in some regions, the law enforcers are forced to mould mud and repair their ramshackle living quarters every time it rains.

The situation is captured by the plight of officers working at Kamwenje Police post along the Laikipia-Baringo border who have to go without basic commodities such as water, houses or even toilets.

Officers normally spend their nights in the cells which they have now converted into sleeping quarters.

The police post, put up with funding from Laikipia West Constituency Development Fund (CDF) kitty, was meant to accommodate officers who normally patrol the border.

But there were no police houses hence forcing the officers to convert the police cells into sleeping quarters.


Thanks to attacks by cattle rustlers, all the window panes on the building have been destroued, forcing the officers to use cartons to protect themselves from strong winds.

An officer who sought anonymity, said they are forced to go to the bushes to relieve themselves.

"The state of the toilets is very bad that one cannot even visit them. We use the nearby bushes as our toilets as well as bathrooms," he says.

The police post has no water supply.

"The closest river is over 10km from the police post and we normally ask for water from some good neighbours whom we have created rapport with. Working here is hectic," he said.

Over 20 police officers have been deployed to the post to patrol the border and hence cannot fit in the cells.

At Kakamega Central Police Station, police officers play cat and mouse with Kenya Power over non payment of bills which normally range between Sh200,000 and Sh600,000.

"Our seniors are not enthusiastic to have the power paid in time and will not do a thorough follow up with the police headquarters to have us reconnected. You walk from your house with crumpled clothes which have not been ironed," said a junior officer.

The officer said it was frustrating for junior officers' children, "Peeping through the windows of the senior officers houses to watch popular TV programmes."

And the situation is no different in Busia, with Budalang'i Administration Police headquarters having no electricity meter of its own.

"The station has tapped power from the Assistant County Commissioners office," said a source.

Other AP camps in Mudindi, Mau Mau, Sisenye and Nambengeta have no electricity.

The situation has made it hard for officers to even have their phones charged so that they can respond to emergencies in time.

The situation is grim at Kericho Police Station where old dilapidated buildings serve as offices, while mud-walled single rooms with leaking rusty roofs serve as police officers living quarters.

An old colonial structure believed to have been constructed in the early 1930s and which served as a mansion for a colonial army commander, who headed troops who offered security to white settlers in the nearby tea plantations, now serves as offices.

The building is shared by the officer commanding station, officer commanding police division and their officers.

The county police commander operates in another tiny room in the compound.

A tiny stone structure, which was extended from the ageing building, in the county that boasts of having its first OCPD in 1965, serves as a cell.

A kiosk-like iron sheet structure constructed on a space that would otherwise be the building's veranda, serves as the station's reception.

A source says an allotment letter for the three acres of land which was formerly owned by James Finlay Limited was handed over to the police in 2012.

"It is a shame that Kericho Police Station, which is among the first stations to be established in Rift Valley and the country, doesn't have a modern building and police officers work in buildings which should have been condemned and torn down a long time ago," the source says.

"I have to always cover my household items with a large nylon cover to prevent them from getting wet and destroyed whenever it rains which is often since Kericho County is one of the areas which receives rainfall literally throughout the year," said a police officer posted at the station.

Police officers have to do with makeshift bathrooms and pit latrines.

Pius Makori said lack of a bathroom forced him to construct one at the back of his house.