NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 21 – The crisis caused by junior officers jamming official police communication network to protest a delay in implementing their salary pay increase continues to hamper security operations across the country.
Apart from affecting security operations, police officers who normally use the channel to coordinate the movement of VIP’s including President Mwai Kibaki had a problem communicating to one another on Wednesday morning due to frequent interruptions.
Occasionally, officers usually coordinate the movement of VIP’s by clearing their way as part of security measures.
On Wednesday morning, the officers coordinating the movement of President Kibaki from State House Nairobi to the airport where he was due to catch a plane to Manyani to officiate the destruction of Ivory tusks had difficulty communicating and had to resort to their mobile phones.
“The channel is still experiencing interruptions by intruders, we had to use our mobile phones on different occasions. This problem is really affecting us,” one senior officer said.
“We avoided using the channel because we did not want the President to be caught up in traffic. It went on smoothly, but we are wondering how long the problem will persist because it is really hampering our work,” the officer who cannot be named because of the sensitivity of the matter said.
Presidential Escort officers usually have a communication channel reserved for them but for them to coordinate their activities, they have to communicate with officers at the Traffic department who rely on their own communication channel.
Both channels were experiencing communication breakdowns due to interruptions by officers furious with the delay of their pay increase.
Several other key figures in government including Ministers and even the Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere were also affected by the frequent interruptions of communication channels which officers use to clear traffic for them.
A police officer with knowledge of the interruptions told Capital News that they were unable to communicate on the channel for the better part of Wednesday morning after an intruder blocked it and only played music and occasionally insulted their seniors whenever they passed orders across.
As a result, a series of meetings were held at Police headquarters to find a lasting solution but little was achieved because the July payroll for police officers and prison warders was officially closed on Tuesday which means that if there is any payment, it will have to be done in August.
“The senior officers are lying to us that we will get our pay at the end of this month yet the payroll for July has been closed,” one officer protested.
When the first phase of the police salary increment was paid out last year, the government announced that the second phase was to be paid this July and the third next year.
But with the close of the July payroll, it is clear that the increment will not be paid out after all.
The first phase of the salary increment was paid out to the officers in July last year following a recommendation by the Justice Philip Ransley commission that documented challenges facing the law enforcement agencies.
Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti had assured the officers that the salary increments will be implemented annually for three years until next year.
“The government should honour its pledge and pay us. We are not asking for too much. We want what we were promised. This money is in the budget,” another officer who cannot be named for fear of losing his job said.
Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia recently indicated that up to Sh9 billion will be required to pay out the second phase of the salary increment for police officers.
When the first phase of the salary increment was implemented last July, the lowest ranked police officer – a constable under job group PG1-was paid Sh21,205 up from Sh18,155 in their previous pay slips.