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Private guards set for training, vetting ahead of gun ownership

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By COLLINS OMULO
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The Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) is set to take private security guards through a guns training so they can complement police officers in offering security.

Director-General Fazul Mahamed said on Tuesday that an internationally approved curriculum was being developed for the training that the authority will roll out next year.

The training will be carried out in collaboration with technical and vocational education and training institutions and the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).

“We have formally made the request and brought in experts who will go through the curriculum. By the end of next year, you will all have gone through the training,” Mr Mahamed told the guards during a meeting in Nairobi.

After the training, he said, the guards will be vetted and then taken through security assessment before being given licences and internationally accredited certification to offer security services, processes which will enable them to own the firearms.

The director-general explained that the training will be for specific assignments, including offering protection for very important persons and security for cash in transit.

There will be a yearly and mandatory refresher course as the guards will be tasked with escorting cash and other valuables for various institutions and individuals.

“We are acquiring international accreditation for such trainings so that by the time the authority issues you with licences, you will be able to seek jobs even in Dubai, London and Qatar,” he told the guards.

“We are not going to arm everybody … only those who will be given such assignments.”

Mr Mahamed said the guards will not be allowed to take the weapons home – they will leave them with their employers, who will have proper armouries.

“The companies will be licensed and [must also have] properly trained security personnel,” he said.

In May, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i directed the State agency to immediately start working on the training programme.

He said all private security guards are to be issued with guns as part of a new strategy to fight crime and provide help for police officers.

The minister said the plan will only take effect when the PSRA finishes forming regulations.

At the time, the CS proposed that private security firms take the jobs of securing cash in transit in three months.

His proposal came after the April approval, by the National Security Advisory Committee, of the proposal to arm the guards. This is currently the responsibility of the Administration Police service.

Dr Matiang’i said the government will issue gun licences to vetted companies, which will then arm their personnel.

“We are in the process of creating a centralised data system of all guards in the country so that their activities and tasks are well coordinated,” he added.

On minimum wages, the PSRA warned that private security firms that do not comply with the directive for an increment risk losing their licences.

Mr Mahamed said the agency will issue neither certificates nor licences to those who ignore the order that President Uhuru Kenyatta during Labour Day celebrations.

The director said the authority was working with the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and the National Treasury on payment regulations.

“We will advise the government to declare as unresponsive, anybody who goes below a certain level,” he said.

Concerning permits, Mr Mahamed said the companies will renew their licences every year, a process which will enable the regulator to ensure they adhere to regulations in the Private Securities Regulations Act of 2018

“If you apply for the first time and comply with the minimum wage requirement but fail to do so the second time, we will catch up with you during the renewal,” he said.

He added, “I will not issue a certificate to any company that does not pay the minimum wage. We will also not licence them. I will also stop further registration of private security companies until I make existing ones complaint,” he said.

The minimum wage issue will be the priority in 2019, Mr Mahamed went on to say, noting that Section 9 (q) of the law empowers the agency to enforce the requirement.

The agency will soon finish work on the Act so public participation on its contents will take place in January.

It is developing a code of conduct that will see private security guards uniformed for easy identification and regulation.

In addition, Mr Mahamed said, the authority will look to partner with Huduma Centres for the registration of the more than 500, 000 private guards countrywide.

This will save them trips to Nairobi for the registration during which they will be issued with unique identification numbers as is the case with police officers.

“If I send that number to a bulk SMS system, it will send a message containing your name, the company you are under and where you are based,” he told the watchmen.

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