NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 17 – The National Police Service has come out to defend tens of Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) acquired from China in 2017, amidst sharp criticism following various attacks that have left tens of security officers dead over time.
The recent incident was last week on Tuesday in Elwak area within Mandera County, where an armored personnel carrier was hit by rocket-propelled grenades, leaving five people dead and 20 others with injuries.
In a statement sent to Newsrooms on Tuesday evening, Police Spokesperson Charles Owino said the said vehicle can only resist specific calibers of ammunition unlike Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, which he said resist mines and rocket propelled grenades.
He, however, said the Police Service is also equipped with Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, saying the last week’s attack is not due to the unsuitability of the equipment, termed in various media reports as Chinese death traps.
“We further wish to clarify that the attack was not in any way due to the unsuitability of our equipment as carried in one of the local dailies,” he said while making reference to an editorial opinion published on The Standard Newspaper on Monday, with the headline: “Take action over these Chinese death traps.”
The vehicles, whose commissioning was done by President Uhuru Kenyatta on January 16, 2017, were part of government’s effort to enhance mobility within the National Police Service.
“One of the glaring gaps was the lack of means of transport that hampered the effectiveness of the police,” the President said during the exercise in 2017.
“In 2013, the NPS had in its strength, only 3,155 vehicles countrywide most of which were in a state of disrepair. Under the NPS vehicle leasing programme, 1,200 vehicles were acquired in the first phase, an additional 1,000 vehicles in the second phase and today we’ve received another 500 vehicles which bring the total number of vehicles acquired under this programme to 2,720.”
Since then, several APC’s have suffered from attacks by the Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia.
The worst-hit areas are in the north eastern region which boarders Somalia and the Coastal region.