Weekly Citizen

Bribery, extortion claims rock security firms vetting – Weekly Citizen


Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and principal secretary Karanja Kibicho have been dragged into a plot where a cartel allegedly wants to phase out local security firms for multinational firms to fill the void using the new regulations in the sector. There are also allegations that the government plans to capitalise on the regulations to deploy the National Youth Service to guard state institutions and department once the local security firms close shop. The firms claim that though a parliamentary committee annulled regulations that required all service providers to be inspected, vetted and licensed by the Private Security Regulatory Authority, the ministry of Interior gazetted those regulations, insisting that firms that will have not been vetted by end of March risk losing licences. “Section 28 of the Private Security Regulations Act requires that no person shall engage in the provision of private security services or offer private security services unless that person is licensed by the Private Security Regulatory Authority,” Matiang’i said last month. Also roped in in the dirty scheme is the Kenya National Private Security Workers’ Union Secretary General Isaac Andabwa. In a protest letter, the security firms claim Andabwa has abandoned their cause after he was appointed a PSRA board member. Prior to his appointment as board member, Andabwa was vocal in rejecting the new regulations and even called for a nationwide strike twice to press for their review. He had filed a case in court only to withdraw it after being appointed a director. Sometimes back, bitter guards attacked Andabwa breaking his hand after stripping him naked in public. But the firms say he has now abandoned them after being bribed with a board appointment, leaving activist Okiya Omtata as their sole defender. Omtata has filed a case in court challenging the legality of the regulations. According to a letter authored by local security firms, which was given to us on strict condition of anonymity, the firms accuse some board members of the PSRA who are supposed to vet them of being corrupt, incompetent and a letdown. They claim, a section of the directors are demanding millions to facilitate vetting. They challenge Matiang’i not to preach water while drinking wine, demanding he first orders the vetting of the PSRA members before the security firms appear before them. The firms in the protest letter claim the PSRA chairman, Stephen Ng’ang’a and chief executive officer Fazul Mohammed are incompetent and corrupt. They claim Ng’ang’a secured the position due to his close links with Kibicho as the two, who are engineers, used to teach at Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture and Technology. The chairman, they add, has no experience on security matters. The firms claim Ng’ang’a has performed dismally as PSRA chairman as evidenced by the fact that the board he chairs hardly convenes meetings and does not consult the stakeholders in making decisions. They cite the rejection of the draft regulations which were supposed to guide the sector by parliament as evidence of Ng’ang’a incompetence and ineptitude, stating he is unfit for the job. They note that when the board was dissolved and another one constituted, the new one came up with strange standards that would have resulted in the closure of 99pc of the local firms. The new board also rushed through a curriculum without having modalities of operationalising it and more so it clashed with Nita and Tivet. “What are the real reasons PSRA regulations failed in Parliament last year? They were illegal,” the letter reads in part.The firms also accuse Fazul of corruption and extortion, noting that he has not made any impact since his appointment as PSRA boss two years ago. They state that Fazul, whom they remind Matiang’i forged his degree certificate, has vested interests in pushing for the arming of the security guards, alluding that he could be on the payroll of arms dealers to facilitate their entry into the country. “In 2016, the Commission on Administration of Justice recommended that Fazul who was the Executive Director of the NGO Coordination Board be barred from holding public office for presenting forged academic documents,” they remind Matiang’i. They also accuse Fazul of being a sexual predator, noting that sexual harassment cases were lodged against him while at NGO Council and “therefore he is unfit to hold office”. The firms claim Fazul has not added any value to PRSA since his appointment two years ago. The firms state that many of them cannot afford to pay guards a monthly salary of Sh25,000 and when other licenses are added up they would end spending more than Sh50,000 on one guard, a figure beyond their reach. They note that their clients such as the Uhuru Kenyatta family who own Brookside Dairies pay a token Sh18,000 per guard and asks the government to do an audit to establish what national and county governments pay for the security services, saying some pay as low as Sh15,000 per guard. The firms see a hidden motive in the new rules, stating they fear they are being driven out of business so that multinational security firms can fill the void.Already, the Private Security Industry Association has faulted the new rules saying they will render most of the 500,000 people directly employed in the sector jobless as the cost of doing business skyrockets. PSIA notes that the new regulations that advocate calibration of equipment and regular training for staff firms will force them to hike monthly fees to break even. In order to facilitate a pay hike for guards in the wake of high operational costs, PSIA recommended that guards be categorised into four sections: A B C and D. Group A to comprise guards in high profile areas, such as malls, government parastatals, hospitals, high-income residential and highrisk events, with each getting paid net pay of Sh60,000. To effect this, they proposed that security firms charge clients at least Sh75,000 per guard. Guards in Group B which includes those manning high schools, middle income homes, commercial buildings and industries are supposed to be paid a minimum of Sh50,000, a move that will see security firms hike service charge fee to at least Sh60,000 per month. Those in Group C and D to be paid Sh29,000 and Sh20,000 per month, a move that will force their employers to charge clients Sh35,000 and Sh26, 000 respectively to stay afloat. Apart from the increased wage bill, private firms are also forced to pay at least 10 licenses every year worth over Sh1.8 million on top of taxes. Firms are also expected to cater to guards training as per part IV section 19 of new PSRA Regulations, upgrade security equipment, buy new uniforms for employees among other costs.



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