• If well regulated, its contribution to the growth of the economy in terms of tax remittances and addressing the challenges of unemployment among the youths.
• Private security guards are at the fore-front in the fight against the virus yet no direct government intervention has been offered to them.
The private security Industry in the country boosts of a potential force of over 500,000 personnel.
A majority of the private security officers are youths, aged between 18- 35 years, indicating that the sector is a direct source of livelihood to a sizable population and their dependants.
This is a service industry, if well regulated, its contribution to the growth of the economy in terms of tax remittances and addressing the challenges of unemployment among the youths will be visible.
Lack of framework, egocentric vested interests ,negative attitude and perception towards this job group has seen the industry remain highly fragmented with a majority of private security service providers taking advantage of the situation to exploit desperate youths and citizens seeking to or working in the sector.
The private security services whether performed by an individual or firm includes; guarding, installation of burglar alarms and protective equipment; access control installation;provision of guard dog services, security of cash in transit, car tracking or surveillance, private investigations and consultancy, close-circuit television and locksmiths.
The ascension of the private security regulation bill into law(Act) in 2016,was meant to provide regulations and a framework for cooperation between the private security services industry and the state agencies that deal with security in accordance with the values and principles set out in the Constitution of Kenya 2010; regulate foreign ownership and control of businesses operating as security service providers as well as regulate private security services registered in Kenya but rendering services outside the Republic.
The Act anchored the industry under the Ministry of Interior and National Coordination.
The Act is meant to govern private security officers, guards, firms,investigators and establish a private security regulatory authority(PSRA) whose mandate is to ensure effective administration, supervision, regulation and control of the private security services as well as formulate and enforce standards for the conduct.
We have over 2,500 registered private security firms and service providers in Kenya.
A majority operate below standards and in gross violation of the employment and labour relations provisions.
They pay their employees far below the government minimum wage requirements, with no remittances of either PAYE, NSSF and NHIF which are statutory mandatory obligations and a right for an employee; they subject their employees to unconducive working conditions, whilst minting millions of cash from clients and making profits at the expense of the dedicated workers.
The Act and the regulator is purposed to bring sanity, order and a fair level base for all the players, with a goal of setting standards and professionalising the industry for a win-win situation.
Cases of unfair,non-competitive tendering processes and corruption are bedevilling the Industry, hitting hard on a few of the private service providers and firms operating fairly above basic labour relations guidelines.
This has resulted in massive job redundancies and sending off employees to mandatory unpaid annual leaves evidently during this Covid-19 pandemic period.
Reputable private security firms are in contemplation of either winding- up, merging or relocating elsewhere.
The regulator is meant to streamline the sector through fresh registration and licensing of all persons involved in or conducting private security services in Kenya; set standards and accredit institutions offering training of security service providers to ensure a high quality of training, monitoring and auditing as well as authentication of training certificates.
This would ensure job ranking is in place with progressive career path growth and motivation for the employees in the sector depending with an individuals training speciality in this error where crime and terrorism is fast evolving and employing technology as tools of trade.
We have the Act and Authority in place courtesy of the Jubilee government. Notably, the enforcement of an Act of parliament requires guidelines for an effective role-out and compliance to the parent law.
In November 2019, the parliamentary committee on delegated legislation annulled the proposed private security (General) guidelines, 2019 drawn by the ministry of interior and meant to operationalise the private security regulation Act, 2016. Parliament adopted the report recommending the annulment of the guidelines.
For such an industry that has remained marginalised for decades, it is fair and humane for central stakeholders to positively re-engage collectively and hasten reforms that remain pending four years down the line.
This will make the industry more competitive , attractive in the job market and address sectoral gap challenges .
By legislatures squashing the entire private security (General) guidelines, 2019- to a “voiceless common guard” , whose general welfare is in limbo , this could be interpreted to either mean parliamentarians had personal vested interests to have status quo remain or the ministry of interior and national coordination presented to parliament half-baked rules devoid of stakeholders inclusivity, sufficient back up justifications and enforcement road map strategy.
Of concern to, amid allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds set aside to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, this job cadre despite being enlisted as part of essential service providers appears forgotten.
They are at the fore-front in the fight against the virus spread, they remain highly exposed , yet no direct government intervention has been offered to them.
Formal structures such as the employers associations in the industry and the Kenya national private security workers Union are in existence and reliable conduits through which the government and social partners can engage and reach out to offer support to this vulnerable group.
Dennis Wendo is the Founder- Integrated Development Network
Email: [email protected]