Counties

1,000 Nairobi ‘askaris’ back to school in NMS reputation repair plan

kanjo

Nairobi County askaris during an operation to arrest traders violating by-laws on Ronald Ngala Street in Nairobi in December 2019. FILE PHOTO | NMG

More than 1,000 Nairobi City County inspectorate service officers will be trained by the National Police Service as administrators seek to fix the unit’s bad reputation.

Commonly known as kanjo askaris, the officers are infamous for their ruthless handling of residents accused of various offences.

The four-month training is scheduled to begin this month at Kiganjo Police Training College and Administration Police Training College, Embakasi.

Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) director of enforcement Services Mark Leleruk said the training targets a friendly enforcement service.

“We want to introduce a new culture of integrity and professionalism with career courses like non-commissioned officers and development courses for corporals and sergeants,” said Dr Leleruk, on secondment from the Administration Police.

There are a total 1,600 askaris across the city county.

The image of the inspectorate is that of old vans fitted with rusty grills sometimes moving against the flow of traffic in hot pursuit of traders accused of unauthorised access.

This will change with the launch of the training, said Dr Leleruk.

“We will also have graduate inspectorate courses. We intend to rebrand and get rid of the culture associated with corruption and brutality, especially when dealing with hawkers,” he added.

The training will also rope in enforcement officers and traffic marshals.

At the end of the exercise, the new enforcement officers along with the re-trained inspectorate personnel will be mandated with patrolling city streets to rid them of hawkers, parking boys and drug peddlers and goons who have taken over public toilets.

“The better equipped uniformed enforcement officers are expected to make the city’s streets safer for both motorists and pedestrians,” he said.

Dr Leleruk said the inspectorate service reform process had already began through issuance of new uniforms as well as high frequency communication gadgets to enhance and coordinate their operations.

The officers are also required to make daily morning briefings to their supervisors, enabling them to monitor their location when on patrol.

Already, 300 enforcement officers who had assigned themselves non-core duties in various markets have been withdrawn and reassigned.

New face

Dr Leleruk added that the process to recruit a new face of Nairobi City inspectorate began in May last year with an advertisement placed in the local dailies but was temporarily delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

As part of having a new-look Nairobi city centre, the director has banned private breakdown operators in the CBD while also taking over control of public toilets previously under control of “goons”.

“We want to flush out parking boys who are collecting parallel fees from motorists as well,” said the NMS enforcement director.