PIP KK: Karanja Kabage had passion for police reforms
One month ago today, prominent businessman and lawyer Karanja Kabage was laid to rest at an emotional but colourful ceremony in Nakuru county, attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, among other top dignitaries.
Kabage, who died of cardiac arrest was eulogised by the country’s top political class and learned friends as an honest and astute businessman, lawyer and politician.
However, unknown to many, K.K, as he often signed off, was a big friend of the Kenya Police and a passionate supporter of initiatives aimed at improving service to local communities. He started off a host of projects in collaboration with the Kenya Police, but as fate would have, it he was unable to push through or witness the results of his sweat.
The renovation of Kilimani Police Station was one such project. Conceived in 2016, Kabage envisaged a dream station that would serve partly as home and recreation centre for police officers and local community, besides dispensing the usual security and law enforcement duties. As OCPD of Kilimani, I was privileged to work with K.K on this project.
The renovation is a Sh500 million project designed to transform what has existed of Kenya’s colonial-era police station buildings dating more than a 100 years. In the present perspective, the architect has done a wonderful impression of what is intended to eventually become a modern police station incorporating a children and gender reception desk, new cells, administration offices for the OCS, OCPD, and the DCIO in Phase One while Phase Two focuses on the renovation of the officers’ living quarters.
The finished works would ‘revolutionise’ how police stations ought to look like, by stopping them from being one dimensional and glum. For instance, there would be a library, a shopping mall, a wellness and counselling centre for officers and their families, worship areas for different faiths, a modern gym and a sporting zone, a welcoming Reports and Enquiry desk and hygienically functional cells and washrooms.
At a media briefing last December during Kilimani Street Festival, he was asked whether his vision was not so limiting and rather ‘elitist’ since the police station was located at an urban, upmarket area. “Not at all”, K.K. responded. “Kilimani Police Station serves a fine mix of the low segments as well as the top and a lot more in-between from the informal settlements of Kibera to State House”, he had emphasised. K.K. wished that this idea, if well managed, would snowball and make progressive inroads into the rest of the counties. Already, he stated, Industrial Area and Karen police stations were in his rear view mirror.
The “ownership” of this project mattered a lot to K.K. Individual community members- from the Mama Mboga, the boda boda operator, local centres of worship, the roadside jua kali man and a diverse combination of others - all were being brought aboard through a voluntary buy-a-brick model of fundraising, then teaming up with some big and small corporates.
Already, Rose and Carol Lukalo were doing a great job of it through media platforms and publicity while William Kalombo had picked it up on the advertisement and marketing.
To K.K., the “reformation” of the Police Service needed a deliberate and purposeful shot in the arm and this was his practical way of going about it. He was very proud of a Sh3 million, 250-feet deep borehole for the Kilimani police constructed by the community under his watch as a “quick-win’ towards the main project.
To K.K., security and safety of a country are so important to be solely left to the government. In his narrative, K.K. was pointing out that already, the idea of Community Policing had been taken at a national level and his idea of improving the working environment of the police lay on the same but more tangible wavelengths.
Eulogised deservedly as a man of integrity, passionate about service to the public, K.K.’s death should hopefully propel this noble project to conclusion as a fitting tribute to him.
The writer is immediate former OCPD, Kilimani.