Cameroon’s government says it is clamping down on unlicensed private security firms in an effort to improve public safety and enforce regulations. It plans to close all but nine of the country’s nearly 50 private companies. The sector’s numbers have risen sharply in the two years since the militant group Boko Haram began carrying out attacks in the country’s northern region. Cameroon has an estimated 70,000 private security guards, compared with about 15,000 armed policemen.
The closings could leave tens of thousands of people jobless, authorities say, but they contend the sector has become rife with crime. Criminal suspects are all too common among the ranks of private security guards, according to Senior Police Commissioner Ossomba Ansleme. He said two guards had been taken into custody as suspects in a rape case being investigated this week in the capital. The man handling the shutdowns is Issanda Issanda Alain Solomon, the Ministry of Territorial Administration’s Director of Political Affairs. He said public safety is the top concern.
He said any well-trained guards losing their jobs because of the closings will find new opportunities with authorized private security companies. The law permits licensed firms to recruit up to 5,000 guards, yet most have 2,000 or fewer.
Issanda Issanda said guards for authorized security companies should wear yellow uniforms. He dismissed local media criticism that the proliferation of private firms reflected the government’s failure to provide adequate security.