, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 11 – Police officers will have to wait for at least 2 years to get all the required sets of the new Persian blue police uniform, which are being manufactured locally, according to Police Spokesman Charles Owino.
All the 60,000 General Duty Officers were expected to wear the new uniform December last year, but it did not happen, raising concerns on local manufacturers capacity to produce the uniforms even as Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi defended them.
Only a few senior officers have been seen wearing the new Persian blue uniform but Owino says there is no cause for alarm, as more resources are set to be channeled towards the acquisition.
Matiangi had in December complained of intense pressure from people he described as “all manner of thieves for the government to import the new police uniform,” on grounds that the local textile industry has no sufficient material to produce it.
On Thursday, Owino told Capital FM News in an exclusive interview that in the next 12 months, all officers will have at least one pair of the new uniform, but they will have to continue using the old one until it is completely phased out and all pairs ready.
“There is a lot that is being done and nobody should worry about the uniform. We expect that the other numbers as our budget allocations increase because we have work with a budget, he said, “But I believe within two years, everybody should be fully kitted. Within a year, we will be able to kit each officer, but we may not be able to get three or four pairs but within two years, we should be able to get all the pairs.”
“Listen to me very carefully, we will not import police uniform from any country. We must protect and promote the local textile industry. Buy Kenya build Kenya. No amount of pressure and manipulation will change that position,” a visibly agitated Matiangi said on December 18.
Police have three types of uniform namely the General Duty Police officers’ uniform which is Persian blue, the combat uniform for all units, for operations and the ceremonial uniform.
“Now, the combat uniform for the 20,000 population is available. It consists of uniform that either we had budgeted earlier or for replacement of others. That one is available,” Owino explained.
He added that “the new blue uniform, that we have, we are able to get quite a good number, up to about 30,000 pieces in the shortest time possible…you know the General Duty Police officers are just 64,000.”
The change in police uniform is just a section of drastic police reforms launched by the President.
The change in police uniform is a United Nations recommendation, in a bid to increase their visibility while serving civilians and is also seen as a way to enhance accountability.
The new uniform was unveiled on September 13 at the Kenya School of Government, when President Uhuru Kenyatta announced drastic reforms that include merging the Kenya Police and Administration Police departments.
“But as we continue, the other uniforms that we have heard are not totally outlawed; the officers will be shelving them as they get new uniform so there should be no worry of uniform because all the uniforms we have are police uniforms and we have not totally outlawed them,” Owino said.
Under the merger, the officers will work under a new unit named the General Duty Officers which will be under the Deputy Inspector General of Police.
The Rural Border Police Unit was transformed into the border police unit with 6,000 officers under the Deputy Inspector General of Police who oversees the Administration Police.
The Administration Police, regular, regional, county and sub-county commander posts were abolished.
President Kenyatta also re-named Kiganjo Police college to the National Police College, with the AP College named as the campus of the National Police College.