Security sector reforms welcome
At long last, security guards in Kenya can afford a smile following the bold move taken by the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) to push their minimum monthly pay to Sh30,000.
Since independence, the private security industry has had a well-known reputation for high employee turnover, besides the condescending attitude towards the guards by the general public. Reason? Low wages, long working hours and the general belief that it is a sector only consigned for those with low educational skills.
Besides the low pay, the private security sector has also been plagued by lack of training and appraisals, absence of pensions and other terminal benefits and poor security of tenure.
Cases of mistreatment of guards by their employers and other high-ranking members of society abound. Memories are still fresh in the minds of many Kenyans of an incident where a senior Judiciary official pinched a female security guard who had insisted on searching her for security reasons.
There have also been cases of security guards being summarily dismissed by their employers at will. And in other instances, employers have been known to treat their guards in an almost manner they do to their animals.....hurling abuses at them as well as making them work for longer hours without commensurate pay.
In other words, private security guards, who ironically outnumber police officers and play a crucial role in the maintenance of daily security, have for years been treated as lesser human beings. Woe unto a university graduate, who after years of unsuccessful search for a job ends up as a security guard! Such poor working conditions have contributed to incidents where guards entrusted to protect millions of shillings , disappearing with the money. Despite all these challenges the guards have faced for decades, State agencies and trade unions seem to have turned a blind eye.
It was thus not only good news for those already working as security guards, but for the millions of jobless Kenyans out there when PSRA on Wednesday outlined new regulations aimed at improving the welfare of these downtrodden members of the society.
It is therefore prudent that PSRA oversees strict implementation and enforcement of the new proposals in letter and spirit.