Private security guards are to be armed with guns in Kenya if a proposed strategy to fight crime is approved. A top Government official with knowledge of the plans revealed the country’s security organ – the National Security Advisory Committee – had approved the proposal. But that will only happen after the Private Security Regulatory Authority comes up with regulations to guide who will be granted a permit to carry the weapons. “Guards are in most places and become the victims of crime, hence the need for them to be allowed to carry weapons. The proposal has been approved,” said the official.
This would be a boost for the guards’ unions that have been agitating for the weapons.
The guards will have to be trained and paid well before they are allowed to carry the guns. Few private security groups are currently issued with permits to carry firearms. The exceptions are mostly firms hired to secure ranches. The Interior ministry is currently developing a training manual for private security officers that should help improve coordination with other security agencies in sharing information and intelligence.
The Kenya National Private Security Workers’ Union welcomed the move even as it decried the increasing number of attacks against private security guards. “This is good news because the country is grappling with terrorism and armed robberies, which put the lives of guards at risk. You cannot stop an armed robber with a rungu. This has exposed us to more danger than armed soldiers in Somalia,” said secretary general Isaac Andabwa. MPs, while supporting the Private Security Industry Regulation Act 2010, had refused to have guards armed, saying doing so would be wrong without proper training and regulations.